London: 020 3440 3705  |  High Wycombe: 01494 451355
Our litigation team recently acted for a client in a claim against his former school. The claim related to a false and damning reference given to a prospective employer which resulted in a job offer being withdrawn and our client suffering loss. The claim settled prior to the issue of proceedings with the school accepting a Part 36 Offer.  

Our family law team was recently successful in obtaining a £4,000 costs order against CAFCASS based on failings in the standards of reporting which led to a delay of proceedings. We are unaware of another case in England and Wales when a costs order has been obtained against CAFCASS.

This week we welcomed Neil Darby to our litigation team. Neil is a solicitor with over 20 years' experience in litigation and will be based at our High Wycombe office in Buckinghamshire.

On 5 September 2017, Presidential Guidance was issued by the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales, and Scotland increasing the levels of compensation which can be awarded to a Claimant for injury to feelings.

Injury to feelings

An award for injury to feelings can be made by the Employment Tribunal in certain claims, such as discrimination or detriment for having blown the whistle.

The award is intended to compensate the Claimant for non-financial loss, such as hurt, distress and anxiety. The award is separate to an award for financial loss, such as loss of earnings.

The Tribunal has discretion as to the amount of the award. It will consider various factors such as any medical condition the Claimant has or is suffering, the seriousness of what happened, the extent to which the employer sought to make amends, the period of discrimination or detrimental treatment and the actual effect on the Claimant.

A Court of Appeal case called Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (2002) distinguished three bands of compensation for injury to feelings. These are normally referred to as the “Vento bands”

1. The lower band: “appropriate for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence.
2. The middle band: “serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band.
3. The top band: “the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race.” Only in “the most exceptional case” should an award for injury to feelings exceed the top of this band.

Increase

As a result of a recent consultation on the Vento bands, they have been increased. The new bands are:

A lower band of £800 to £8,400 (previously £600-£6,600);
A middle band of £8,400 to £25,200 (previously £6,600- £19,800); and
An upper band of £25,200 to £42,000, with the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £42,000 (previously £19,800 to £33,000).

The new bands apply to cases submitted to the Tribunal on or after 11 September 2017.
 
The Presidents say they will review and, if necessary, amend the Presidential Guidance in March 2018 and annually thereafter. 
 
What does this mean for employers? 

The new bands represent an increase in potential liability for employers facing discrimination or whistleblowing detriment claims; it may become more expensive if an employer loses such a claim.However, employers should note that the majority of awards have historically fallen in the lower or middle bands, with only a few in the top band.  
 
We await hearing about the first Tribunal decisions and subsequent statistics applying the increased figures.

An equal pay claim involving thousands of employees of supermarket chain ASDA continued at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) last week.

Background

ASDA v Brierley and others involves some 7,000 claimants who allege that they have been subject to unequal pay for equal work while working for ASDA. The Claimants are among ASDA’s 133,000 (mostly female) retail staff who claim that they have been systematically underpaid, compared to the 11,600 (mostly male) workers in ASDA’s distribution warehouses. Historically, ASDA’s distribution warehouses were run separately to their retail arm and were frequently run by third parties. However, they are now run by ASDA directly. In addition to higher pay, and unlike their colleagues in retail, distribution workers enjoy improved terms such as overtime and paid lunch breaks, and the benefits of trade union bargaining power.

What was the appeal about?

To demonstrate that they are receiving unequal pay, the Claimants had to show that their work is of ‘equal value’ to the work undertaken by their colleagues. To demonstrate this, it is necessary to identify a comparator colleague, being a real person (of the opposite sex) in the same employment who does the same, similar or an equivalent job and is paid more. Retail employees have argued that the distribution warehouse workers are comparators. The Employment Tribunal in Manchester accepted this argument in October 2016 but ASDA appealed this decision to the EAT.

The Claimants successfully advanced various arguments to establish comparability between themselves and the distribution workers. These included:

  • the ‘single source’ requirement, that a sole body (ASDA’s board of directors) is responsible for the inequality between the two and could restore equal treatment;
  • that, on a broad comparison, the Claimants and the distribution workers have common terms and conditions of work; and
  • the ‘North hypothetical’, i.e. whether if a male distribution worker for some reason was required to work in the retail role, they would continue their current levels of remuneration and benefits.

ASDA unsuccessfully claimed that Article 157 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (which requires equal pay between men and women) does not have direct effect and so would not have been enforceable in the circumstances. ASDA argued that Article 157 did not apply for claims for equal value unless there had been a prior concession to that effect or where a job evaluation scheme had rated the work as equivalent.

What was the outcome?

The EAT upheld the decision of the Employment Tribunal in Manchester; that the distribution workers are suitable comparators for the purposes of the claim.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, ASDA have contested this case at every step. A success for the retail workers will prove expensive and damaging. The supermarket has indicated it will seek permission to challenge the EAT’s decision in the Court of Appeal. We will be keeping an eye on this case as it continues to develop.

More information about equal pay and sex discrimination claims can be found here (http://www.curzongreen.co.uk/practice-areas/employment-law/equal-pay.html)

If you have concerns about equal pay or sex discrimination, please contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation by calling either our London or High Wycombe offices on 0203 440 3705 or 01494 451355 respectively, or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Today the Law Society's roll of solicitors welcomes our Rosina Hough who qualifies after completing her training contract with us. Rosina will be staying with the firm working within our residential conveyancing department in our Buckinghamshire office.
Well done to Andrew Piggin who last week learned that he had been awarded a Distinction in the Legal Practice Course. He will soon begin his training contract, and his first seat will be in the property team where he has worked part-time over the past year.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Employment Tribunal fee regime, introduced by the coalition government in July 2013, is unlawful.

The fee regime required an initial issue fee of up to £250 and a hearing fee of up to £950.

In summing up, the Supreme Court Judges stated that the current regime was “inconsistent with access to justice”, which has been highlighted by many recent studies and reports. For example, a report found there had been a 70% drop in the number of claims since 2013 and that there have been huge reductions in discrimination cases on the grounds of sex (71%), race (58%) and disability (54%).
The Supreme Court Judges also held that the fee regime is discriminatory and contrary to the Equality Act 2010 as it disproportionately affects women.

The Judgment held that that the level and structure of the current regime is unlawful. Therefore, it is not clear if we will see an amended fee regime or the complete scrapping of Employment Tribunal fees. Either way, we may see a rise in Tribunal claims going forward.

Since the Judgment given yesterday, the government website has been updated and currently states that “you do not have to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, even if it says so on the form”.

It is currently unclear how the government will deal with reimbursing those who paid Tribunal fees since July 2013. There are estimates that it will cost the government in the region of £27million.
This weekend two of the partners will be running the annual Wycombe Half Marathon & 10K. Jennifer Sole will be going for glory in the 10K, whereas Rob Green is intending to slog away at the Half Marathon.
We are pleased to confirm that our newly formed Wills and Probate team have been accredited by the Law Society with Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme membership.

Page 1 of 8

News Archive

2017

(84 articles)

2016

(54 articles)

2015

(172 articles)

2014

(2 articles)

2013

(2 articles)
  Family Law - Solicitors High Wycombe  Collobrative Law - Curzon Green SolicitorsLaw society   SRA   APIL   PNLA

    Family Law - Curzon Green Solicitors