Solicitors in Essex, Colchester, Chelmsford, London – Fisher Jones Greenwood https://www.fjg.co.uk Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:37:05 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Continued success for FJG in the Chambers guide https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/28/continued-success-in-chambers-2021 https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/28/continued-success-in-chambers-2021#respond Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:32:45 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22564 In the 2021 edition of the respected Chambers & Partners UK legal directory...

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In the 2021 edition of the respected Chambers & Partners UK legal directory released in October, we’re delighted to announce that FJG has two ranked Band 1 departments and 2 ranked individuals.

For the last 30 years, this distinguished directory has been seen by many as a reliable and trusted guide to the UK legal profession; being described as the ‘world’s leading provider of legal research and analysis’. Chambers & Partners recommends and ranks the best law firms and individuals every year, priding itself on a high number of experienced researchers, a wealth of localised knowledge, and market insight helping individuals make an informed decision on their legal representative. Understandably, FJG is proud to be named among the legal elite of Essex.

Rankings for the Corporate & Commercial team…

Our Corporate & Commercial team has superseded 2018’s Band 2 ranking again to join the Family Law team in a Band 1 ranking. The guide acknowledges the team’s established presence in the Charity, Education, and Healthcare sectors; highlighting their ability to draw on other teams at FJG to provide a complete service to corporate clients. A source praised the team for their “depth and breadth of knowledge” and presenting “a modern approach with great traditional values.” Recent activity has involved transactions arising in the Construction and Information Technology sectors.

“Responsive” and “detail-focused” Senior Partner, Tony Fisher heads the firm’s Corporate & Commercial team and is ranked at Band 1 individually continuing his success after being named in the 2021 edition of the Legal 500. Tony Fisher is highlighted for possessing a broad knowledge of corporate and commercial work; with strong contract negotiation, M&A, restructuring skills in the Education and Charity sectors. Clients state that Tony “explains his recommendations in simple terms” and “has a terrific skill in listening to his client and giving a really analytical overview of where they need to take their business”.

Recommendations for the Family Law team…

Our Family Law team is also ranked Band 1 in the Chambers guide. The team are highlighted as a leading practice for matrimonial financial cases, children law matters and are esteemed for their experience in assisting with cases involving family businesses, inherited wealth, property, and pensions. The team also handles complex child abduction, domestic abuse matters, and advises guardians and parents during care proceedings. Finally, the team are noted for their full-service support to clients offering a broad range of ADR options, including collaborative law. The team’s expertise is further coveted by celebrating a decade of Top Tier rankings after recognition in this year’s Legal 500 edition.

A source from Chambers and Partners’ research describes the Family Law team as having: “advised on everything I needed, explaining the legal jargon” and they “were very helpful“. Another client goes on to say: “they have been brilliant since day one. I am happy with absolutely everything – they are just amazing.”

Following on from his recommendation in the Legal 500; head of the Family Law team, Simon Osborn is recommended individually at Band 2 in the Chambers guide. He is described as having significant experience in complex financial remedy proceedings involving businesses, offshore properties, and other high-value assets.  A client praises his “advice was always spot on” adding: “he was very calm, reassuring and methodical in the way that he explained things to me, and was able to articulate difficult points quite easily”.

Paula Cameron, Managing Partner at FJG, commented on the results, saying: “We are overjoyed with the recognition we’ve received in this well-respected legal guide. As the rankings are considered on the basis of client feedback, this is befitting recognition to the dedication and hard work put in by these teams and individuals alike.”

To discuss your legal needs with our Chambers & Partners UK recommended teams and individuals, call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Partner, Andrea Godfrey passes British Sign Language Course https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/23/partner-andrea-godfrey-passes-british-sign-language-course https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/23/partner-andrea-godfrey-passes-british-sign-language-course#respond Fri, 23 Oct 2020 10:32:20 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22491 We are pleased to announce our Clacton-based Wills, Life Planning, and Probate Partner,...

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We are pleased to announce our Clacton-based Wills, Life Planning, and Probate Partner, Andrea Godfrey has passed the Level 2 British Sign Language (BSL) course. This qualification enables individuals to progress their skills to communicate with Deaf people using BSL in a variety of everyday situations. Andrea undertook the course with iSign Learning & Development (ISLD) in Colchester.

As a firm FJG are Deaf aware and committed to serving the Deaf community. FJG were awarded the Deaf-Aware Quality Mark from the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) in 2018 as well as being the first law firm to work with SignLive, ensuring Deaf clients gain swifter access to a qualified BSL Interpreter. With Andrea’s Level 2 BSL qualification, her language skills are at an intermediate level to improve communication with Deaf people. BSL is a crucial communications connection between the Deaf/hard of hearing and those who can hear; Andrea’s skill in this area can be utilised to make the access to legal services easier for the Deaf community.

Sebastian Smith, ISLD Course Director, commented “We at ISLD are very pleased to announce Andrea has successfully passed her Level 2 BSL Course. She passed all 3 assessments on the first attempt, a great achievement! She is very passionate about learning BSL and has recently embarked on her Level 3 a few weeks ago, I am pleased to say she is still enjoying herself very much.”

Managing Partner, Paula Cameron, adds “I am delighted to share Andrea’s accomplishment. Andrea is a highly-respected Solicitor & Partner in the Tendring area; this new string to her bow is true testament to her going above and beyond to provide an excellent client service.”

As well as having the BSL qualification, Andrea is a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly and also a Dementia Friend. As well as seeing clients in the office, Andrea is happy to visit clients at their homes.

Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors can be found at 73 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Alternatively, you can contact Andrea Godfrey directly by calling 01255 323103 or by emailing agodfrey@fjg.co.uk.

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FAQ’s for Businesses on Redundancy https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/22/faqs-businesses-redundancy https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/22/faqs-businesses-redundancy#respond Thu, 22 Oct 2020 10:08:05 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22471 As the furlough scheme comes to an end, many businesses are facing difficult...

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As the furlough scheme comes to an end, many businesses are facing difficult decisions around redundancy. Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat on this topic, Priya Patel from the FJG’s Dispute Resolution team has provided some answers to a few frequently asked questions about the redundancy process; such as how can employers ensure the redundancy process is fair? And how can a Solicitor help a business facing the prospect of making redundancies?

Talk us through the steps employers must take during the redundancy process.

  1. Employers must establish whether there is a genuine redundancy situation in the first place. If there is a closure of the business, for example, there is likely to be a place of work redundancy.  Otherwise, is there a reduced requirement for employees to carry out work for a particular client?
  2. Employers must then consider the pool and selection criteria and list any alternative vacancies there may be.
  3. If there are collective redundancies then employers must notify the Secretary of State that they are planning to make collective redundancies (there are specific time limits for discharging collective redundancy related tasks).
  4. The first meeting should be held with employees who might be made redundant and then letters should go to employees informing them of the information given to them during the meeting. Employers should then score each potentially redundant employee using selection criteria and scoring guidelines. A second letter is then sent to employees who have provisionally been selected for redundancy and the individual consultations start.  They are usually followed up and a meeting outcome is confirmed. Shortly after that, dismissal letters can go and right of appeal exists.

How can employers ensure the redundancy selection process is fair and doesn’t discriminate?

Employers should construct a selection criteria and score against that selection criteria for identifying redundant people by reference to non-discriminatory factors, having regard to equality legislation and its own policies.

What would be considered a ‘collective redundancy’? How does this process differ from the standard redundancy process?

Collective redundancies are deemed necessary where 20 or more redundancies are being proposed within a 90 day period. The standard redundancy process differs because there is no need to observe the time requirements for conducting consultation.

What would be considered an unfair dismissal?

An unfair dismissal is any dismissal falling outside of the potentially five fair reasons for dismissing someone, and which falls outside of the range of reasonable responses for dismissing someone.  So, using the example of someone who has been dismissed for a misconduct reason, if it is a first offence and the misconduct is not so serious as to go to the root of the employment contract permitting an employer to treat it as at an end, dismissal in such circumstances may be considered to be unfair.

What top tips would you give to a business that is facing the prospect of making a redundancy?

  1. Establish what risk there is to the jobs and in what areas within the business early.
  2. Establish how many redundancies may need to be proposed.
  3. Maintain good lines of communication with those employees who are identified as being at risk and try to help them by identifying suitable alternative employment within the business, into which they may be redeployed.
  4. Listen to employees during the consultation stage and at meetings in regard to other ways in which they may be able to stay employed within the business and keep a record of avenues of search which have been completed by you [as the employer] to try to find ways around making the redundancies.
  5. Score each potentially redundant employee by reference to the same selection criteria and scoring guidelines. Ensure that at least two managers conduct the scoring, to help ensure scores are objective.
  6. When making the redundancies, write to employees confirming the decision to dismiss them as redundant and specify the termination date and explain the calculation of redundancy payment and other payments to be made.

Our friendly Employment Law team are available if you would like further advice, please contact us on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Employee, Worker: Employment Status https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/19/employee-worker-employment-status https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/19/employee-worker-employment-status#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 11:15:31 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22383 Modern working times have seen a whole myriad of different models of working...

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Modern working times have seen a whole myriad of different models of working implemented in the workplace. The issue over whether an individual has the status of an employee or a worker, or is self-employed (an independent contractor) can be surprisingly difficult for some to ascertain.

Under current employment law, there are statutory definitions for “employer” and for “worker”. Although, these are not comprehensive and there can be blurring of the lines. It is possible for an individual to be neither an employee nor a worker, although such person could fall into the category of being self-employed.

Some might ask: why does employment status matter? Well, employers and employees have obligations mutually towards each other which need to be observed. Some core legal protections only apply to employees; for example, rights on termination of employment, or the right to not be unfairly dismissed, and the right to receive statutory redundancy pay.

Only employees are covered by the ACAS code of practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures, also. There can also be advantages for tax treatment for people providing services, dependent on their status too and, as such, being an employee versus being self-employed can cause differences in position.

Employers owe employees statutory duties relating to health and safety also. In light of the current pandemic, being an employee can have its advantages, therefore.

How do you define your ‘Employee Status’?

There are various definitions of “employee” enshrined in statute, although none are comprehensive enough so that the courts can be relieved of having to determine status. There are a number of tests that Courts and Tribunals have used in order to determine the same and case law has also played its part. Under s230(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) an employee is defined as:

an individual who has entered into or works under (or where the employment has ceased) worked under, a contract of employment”.

A contract of employment is, broadly speaking, a “contract of service” whether express or implied and whether oral or in writing.

What does ‘Worker Status’ mean?

This reflects that some individuals, whilst not being full-blown employees, are entitled to a whole range of employment rights but are nevertheless not fully independent and are still deserving of some of the protections offered under the Employment Rights Act too.

A worker is defined under s 230(3) of the ERA as:

“an individual who has entered into or works under (or where the employment has ceased worked under):

  1. A contract of employment;
  2. Any other contract, whether express or implied and whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or to perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any professional undertaking carried on by the individual”.

Clearly, the above can require some interpretation, depending on the circumstances of ones’ engagement, and hence the lack sometimes of obvious demarcation.

It is clear that all employees are workers though. However, there can be a fundamental lack of understanding over the meaning for an engagement of people doing or performing “personally” any work-related services. “Personal service” is fundamental to employment status, but in the case of “worker” status, the requirement for personal service is often analysed through the lens of whether the individual is afforded the right to offer a substitute person to do the work.

The Court of Appeal in the Pimlico Plumbers case (see Pimlico Plumbers Limited v Smith [2017] EWCA Civ 51) confirmed that an unfettered right to provide a substitute is inconsistent with an undertaking providing services personally and the lack of the work being carried out personally is likely to militate against worker status being available.

It is the construction of the contract in the light of the circumstances in which it was made that the Court of Appeal has confirmed in earlier cases that is one of the important test tools used when deciding status.

The status of the Employer matters too; in the sense that if it is a customer of a business or a client of a profession carried on by an individual then, worker status is similarly going to be in jeopardy for the service provider.

Mutuality of obligations between parties is another one of the important factors for an individual to successfully fall within the definition of the worker. This refers to there being an obligation to provide work and for the work to be done by the person hoping to establish worker status.

Workers and Non-Workers Examples – how the Courts have held

  • A self-employed labourer working as a sub-contractor in the building industry – held to be a worker;
  • A general labourer, who was employed for two years before accepting £200 in exchange for becoming a labour-only sub-contractor – held to be a worker;
  • A salesman earning commission from referrals – held to be a worker;
  • An individual with an unfettered right to appoint a substitute for any reason without sanction – held to be a non-worker;
  • A painter and decorator who was required to carry out their work personally, but was only paid for work done – held to be a non-worker;
  • An electrician who worked exclusively for a company for two years that did not hold an industry accreditation or invoice the company whilst working for it – held to be a non-worker.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being considered a ‘worker’?

Depending on one’s circumstances there are clear advantages and potential disadvantages for being considered to be a worker as opposed to a self-employed person.

There are also advantages and disadvantages to being an employee as opposed to being of any other status. What is clear is that depending on what is intended at the start of any working relationship, the clearer the demarcation can be in the construction of the contract between the various status’ the better at the end of the relationship. It is at the end of course when a dispute could arise and/or there could be implications for tax or other benefits or welfare-related enquiries to start.

Contact FJG

If you or your business would like to know more about status when working, please contact with FJG’s Employment Law team, who will be pleased to analyse the relationships at play and advise on the most up to date interpretation of the law in light of the facts to help avoid any pitfalls – please contact us on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk

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When should I receive my redundancy payment? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/19/redundancy-payments https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/19/redundancy-payments#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 10:58:54 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22379 Redundancy is defined as a business closure, workplace closure, or a diminished requirement...

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Redundancy is defined as a business closure, workplace closure, or a diminished requirement of a business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind. Employers sometimes use redundancy as a reason for terminating an employee’s employment contract when businesses decide to reduce the number of employees either within the business as a whole, at a particular site or office, or when a function or a job role diminishes.

Redundancy is topical at the moment because of the recession which the UK is facing. The law does not generally interfere with an employer’s freedom to make business decisions and it can be unfortunate for employees that employers are not required to justify the reasons for making redundancies.

Provided that a Tribunal is satisfied that there is a genuine reason for dismissal – and note that redundancy is one of potentially five fair reasons why an employee can be dismissed – business requirement and redundancy in light of those circumstances is not generally tested by Tribunals.

The leading case on establishing whether an employee has been dismissed by reason of redundancy is a case known as Safeway Stores PLC v Burrell, which formulated a three-stage test to determine whether a redundancy dismissal [proper] has been realised for the purposes of applying the statutory definition of redundancy.

Employees are more likely to realise business closure as a reason for redundancy; which may be wholly or partially attributable to the fact that employers have ceased to, or intend to, cease carrying on businesses of a particular type.

When it appears that employers are replacing one business with another, a Tribunal may have to look at whether any new business is sufficiently different in nature from the original business, such that it can be seen that the original business actually ceased.

Workplace closures tend to be more clear-cut for establishing that redundancy was the reason for dismissal, for obvious reasons.

When an employee has over two years’ service, a statutory redundancy payment is payable to an employee when they are dismissed by reason of redundancy. In many cases, the question of entitlement to, and the calculation of, a statutory redundancy payment is fairly straightforward. However, in some cases, uncertainty surrounding an individual’s status can sometimes get in the way of things.

Whilst statutory redundancy payments are usually payable to employees, some employees are excluded from this right. Unreasonable refusal of an offer of alternative employment, failure to work a notice period, or misconduct at work are just some of the reasons why an employee may lose their entitlement to a redundancy payment.

How do you calculate a statutory redundancy payment?

The amount of a statutory redundancy payment to which an employee is entitled depends on their age, length of service, and salary. This is calculated by determining the period during which the employee was continuously employed, and which ends with what is known as the “relevant date”. One then counts backward from the relevant date, allowing for the “appropriate amount” for each of the employee’s complete years of continuous employment for that employer.

The appropriate amount is equal to 1½ weeks’ pay for each complete year of service in which the employee was aged over 41, 1 week’s pay for each complete year of service in which the employee was aged 22-40, and ½ a week’s pay for each complete year of service in which the employee was under the age of 22 for any part of the year.

The figure will be used to calculate the multiplier for an employee’s weeks’ pay as at the calculation date. A “week’s pay” is subject to a statutory maximum allowed for it, which is currently £538.  Anything earned over that will not count toward the statutory calculation.

If an employee earns less than that per week, then the multiplier used to calculate the week’s pay is their lower weekly earnings rate, whatever that is for them.

Often, employees believe that they have not been offered suitable alternative employment being dismissed for a redundancy reason before the dismissal takes place. Such circumstances can be relevant to the question over whether an employee has been unfairly dismissed (provided they have over two years of service in that employment) and whether eventual dismissal would have been inevitable.

You can calculate your statutory redundancy payment on the government website.

Although there is guidance, there is no prescribed way for handling redundancies in the ACAS code. It is good practice for employers though to prepare for making redundancies by, amongst other things, identifying, properly, any at-risk role(s), consulting with potentially redundant people in good time, developing a fair criteria upon which to score those in the redundancy pool before making dismissals and considering what suitable alternative employment there could be for employees who may be redeployed elsewhere within the business.

What are the time limits for redundancy?

Generally, an employee will not be able to bring a statutory redundancy payment claim unless one of four events occurs within a six month period beginning with the relevant date:

  • The payment is agreed and paid by the employer;
  • The employee makes a written claim for payment to the employer;
  • The employee’s right to a redundancy payment is referred to an Employment Tribunal;
  • The employee presents a claim for unfair dismissal to an Employment Tribunal.

What is temporary redundancy?

Employees may be able to bring a claim for redundancy payments if they have been made redundant temporarily for either more than four consecutive working weeks; or, more than six non-consecutive weeks within a reference period of 13 weeks.

When are redundancy payments not applicable?

  • If your employer offers to allow you to resume work; or
  • If your employer offers you suitable alternative work which you refuse.

Who is responsible for meeting the cost of redundancy payments?

One’s former employer is responsible for paying a redundancy payment (if the employee qualifies), in order to provide them with compensation for failing to keep them employed. In some instances, redundancy pay will be provided in the next payroll date after the termination of the employment.

In cases where insolvency of the employer is an issue, contact of the Insolvency Service is advised and the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS), a Government agency, may, subject to certain conditions which both the employer and employee must meet, pay the statutory redundancy pay and notice pay on behalf of an employer.

What do I do if my redundancy payment doesn’t arrive on time or at all? 

If an employer does not pay statutory redundancy pay at the agreed time, the first step should be to contact them and remind them of their default.

If the employer still fails to pay the redundancy payment, a claim to an Employment Tribunal can be brought either together with, or without (depending on the circumstances), a claim for unfair dismissal.

Although the time limit for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal is three months from the date of one’s effective date of termination, a claim for redundancy must be brought within six months of the date that the payment was entitled to be received (as discussed above).

Before considering a claim for unfair dismissal, an employee should be advised to understand their rights in relation to the circumstances prevailing at the time of dismissal and, as such, obtaining specialist legal advice before bringing a claim is always advised.

Our friendly Employment Law team are available if you would like further advice, please contact us on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk

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Don’t DIY, use a Solicitor https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/19/dont-diy-use-a-solicitor https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/19/dont-diy-use-a-solicitor#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 10:55:20 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22406 Following on from last week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Amy Burton from FJG’s...

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Following on from last week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Amy Burton from FJG’s Wills, Life Planning & Probate team has provided some answers to a few frequently asked questions about why you should use a Solicitor. She talks with a particular focus on DIY Will writing.

  • What are the most common issues that occur when someone chooses to deal with a legal issue alone?

The scope for uncertainty is unfortunately a lot greater and if there is one thing in law that is not ideal, regardless of the area of law, it is uncertainty. Law requires black and white and there should be as little chance of grey areas as possible. This can be hard to address when dealing with a legal matter yourself.

  • Taking a DIY approach to dealing with legal issues can be seen as a way to save on costs, how does your legal advice provide clients with value for money?

It may save costs in the short term but often can have dire consequences in the long term. In the instance of DIY Wills, we have had many cases where a testator has died and the family has had to instruct a Barrister to provide their legal opinion on the contents of the Will if drafted poorly or there is scope for interpretation of the testator’s wishes. The cost of this advice far outweighs what the cost of having a professional Will would have been.

  • Why is it important to give tailored and unique advice to clients?

Everyone’s circumstances are different. Even if you find ‘advice’ online, it is likely to be generic and can often be misleading if it doesn’t relate to your exact scenario. There is a reason that we are experts at what we do and one of those reasons is being able to apply the law, effectively and correctly, to your personal circumstances.

  • What are the key times in life someone should speak to a Solicitor?

Important at all times of life, preparing a Will is often seen to be the most important document to have prepared by a solicitor. Quite simply, you will not be around to fix any problems if anything turns out to be wrong with a DIY Will. It is your family that will have to deal with the fallout; which is usually contrary to your initial intention.

  • What would you say to someone who is considering dealing with a legal issue alone rather than consulting a Solicitor?

As with everything in life, there are experts in certain fields. If your boiler breaks, you would consult a plumber. If your car broke down, you would consult a mechanic. The same applies to legal issues. A Solicitor should be consulted to ensure that any action is the appropriate action, that any documents are correctly drafted, and that the outcome is that which you desire.

FJG Solicitors have an experienced Wills, Life Planning & Probate team who can assist you in getting your affairs in order. The team has continued making Wills throughout the Coronavirus pandemic under their free Wills initiative; where Wills are put together free of charge in return for a donation to charity. If you want to make or update your Will, please contact FJG’s Wills, Life Planning & Probate team, call 01206 700113, or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Change to the Use Classes Order. What you need to know. https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/13/change-to-the-use-classes-order https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/13/change-to-the-use-classes-order#respond Tue, 13 Oct 2020 15:33:39 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22305 As part of the government’s response to planning and the Covid-19 pandemic we...

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As part of the government’s response to planning and the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen a change to the Use Classes Order to create the new more flexible Class E use class.

The purpose of this change has been to allow the commercial sector to change rapidly and respond during the Covid-19 pandemic to preserve business and economic activity as far as possible through the flexibility that Class E provides.

What were the old use Classes?

The old use Classes A, B1, and D were revoked from the 1st September 2020 and replaced by the new Class E, which is in force until the end of July 2021. Class E now provides some flexibility for the commercial, business, and service sectors.

What are the new use Classes?

The new Class E is divided into categories (a) to (g), which broadly encompass the now revoked Classes, but where the uses are contained within a single-use Class thereby providing the flexibility throughout the use Class that was not fully available with the now revoked Classes.

Previously some changes of use may not have been possible without the submission and consideration of an express planning application, all taking time to prepare by the applicant and determine by the local planning authority. The flexibility now means that changes of use, subject to meeting the requirements and there being no controlling planning conditions, can be more responsive to economic circumstances if the existing and proposed use fall within the new use Class E.

New defined local community use

Class F has also been introduced from the 21st September replacing the revoked use Classes of D1 and D2(e). In addition, a newly defined local community use has been introduced. This local community use Class makes provision for community shops (subject to criteria), halls/meeting places for the principal use by the local community, areas/places for outdoor recreation that does not include motorised vehicles/firearms, and for indoor/outdoor swimming pools or skating rinks.

Amongst others pubs, wine bars/drinking establishments, drinking establishments with expanded food provision, venues for live music, cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls, dance halls, and hot food takeaways are now sui generis uses meaning any change of use of these uses now requires express planning permission.

If you would like a free 15-minute virtual appointment with Sharon to discuss the revised use classes or any other planning related matter, please contact FJG on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.

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Mental health in the workplace https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/09/mental-health-in-the-workplace https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/09/mental-health-in-the-workplace#respond Fri, 09 Oct 2020 15:51:55 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22198 Tomorrow, October 10th 2020 marks World Mental Health Day, raising awareness of mental...

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Tomorrow, October 10th 2020 marks World Mental Health Day, raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and what can be done to support those who need it. But what rights do employees have in the workplace when it comes to their mental health? And what can employers do to support employees dealing with mental health issues? Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor ChatPriya Patel from the FJG’s Dispute Resolution team has provided some answers on a few frequently asked questions.

What rights do employees have in the workplace when it comes to their mental health?

All employers have a common law duty to take reasonable care for the safety of their employees. They have a duty to see that reasonable care is taken to provide them with a safe place of work, safe tools and equipment, and a safe system of working. Employees suffering from long term mental health issues may not be understood properly by employers and their behaviours and any deficiencies in their working practices may need to be considered in light of protections which exist around their protested characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, depending on whether the employer was informed or ought to have known about there being a disability.

What counts as discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination is generally the less favourable treatment of somebody on account of a protected characteristic. It may also manifest in both direct and indirect ways. Discrimination can also happen where something in consequence of a persons’ disability causes them to be treated differently. More can be found on the types of discrimination in our earlier blog post.

What can an employee do if they feel they’ve been discriminated against because of their mental health at work?

Employees should have regard to their workplace’s policy handbook in regard to mental health issues and if they feel that they have been discriminated against and wish to take formal action in regard to that, then filing a grievance may be advisable.

Are employees entitled to sick pay and time off work for mental health issues?

Those suffering from mental health issues may have a right to receive contractual sick pay if they are off work by reason of this. As to statutory sick pay, if an employee is incapacitated because of a mental health issue, then they may not be fit for work and may be eligible to receive statutory sick pay.

How can employers support employees with their mental health, including those working from home?

Since mental health is integral to how staff feel about their jobs, it may be in an employer’s interest to improve mental health awareness within its organisation, tackle the causes of work-related ill health promptly, and create a workplace culture which makes staff feel able to talk about their mental health and support staff who are experiencing mental ill-health.

Some undertakings choose to create mental health plans; designed to encourage and promote good mental health amongst all staff and create a culture of organisational awareness about mental health issues.

Our friendly Employment Law team are available if you would like further advice, please contact us on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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A decade of Top Tier rankings for FJG’s Family Law team plus… https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/06/legal-500-results-2021 https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/06/legal-500-results-2021#respond Tue, 06 Oct 2020 16:33:37 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22125 … other outstanding Legal 500 results FJG is recognised as being committed to...

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… other outstanding Legal 500 results

FJG is recognised as being committed to providing expert legal advice and exceptional client service across a range of legal matters, being particularly known in the Essex area for their expertise in Family Law. In the 2021 edition of the Legal 500, this is celebrated with our well-established Family Law team having acquired a decade’s worth of Top Tier rankings.

As well as this, the 2021 edition sees FJG boast eight practice areas rankings altogether, in addition to, two ‘Leading Individuals’, six ‘Next Generation Partners’, three ‘Rising Stars’, and seventeen ‘Recommended Lawyers’.

10 years of Top- Tier rankings for the Family Law team

Most notable in the rankings for FJG in 2021 is the continued Tier 1 success of the FJG Family Law team in securing a landmark ten-year top-level ranking. Over the years the Legal 500 editions have described the team as ‘exceptional’, ‘modern and refreshing‘, ‘compassionate and cost-efficient’, ‘open and up-front’ offering a ‘high-level service’ and providing ‘excellent service across the spectrum’. In this 2021 edition, Simon Osborn, Partner and head of the team continues to be recognised as a ‘Leading Individual’ talking of their accomplishment, he adds: “I am very proud of how my team has continued to maintain this remarkable level of service over an extended period of time, which is a true testament to the training and sharing of knowledge and expertise between the different levels with the team over the last decade.

Other successes to note…

Also, the Commercial Property team remains ranked as Tier 1. They are noted for specialising in complex transactions and being well-established in catering for clients in industries such as healthcare, farming, finance, haulage, and property development. Head of the team Ellen Petersen is recommended along with Associate Solicitor, Leon Pascal, and Solicitor, Louise Smith being named as ‘Rising Stars’.

FJG‘s Commercial Litigation, Immigration, and Wills, Life Planning & Probate teams are ranked at Tier 2; with various members of these teams being recognised as ‘Next Generation Partners’ for significant recognition from clients and peers, ‘Rising Stars’ those who are widely cited as having made major contributions to practices and ‘Recommended Lawyers’. The Corporate & Commercial, Employment Law, and Personal Injury teams are recognised with a Tier 3 ranking with Senior Partner, Tony Fisher being named yet again as ‘Leading Individual’.

Finally, being named in the 2020 edition for the first time, FJG’s Personal Injury team continue their success being described as ‘outstanding’ with Solicitor and key contact Rhian Lowe noted as the ‘star of the firm’, according to clients.

Paula Cameron, Managing Partner at FJG commented: “In this unprecedented year, I am pleased with the great result we’ve received in this latest set of Legal500 rankings. I am very proud of the Family Law team for maintaining their Top Tier ranking for ten years; it is evidence of the team’s expertise and commitment. What an incredible achievement!”

To discuss your legal needs with our Legal 500 recommended teams and individuals, call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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What to do if you are having a dispute with your neighbour? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/02/neighbour-disputes https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/10/02/neighbour-disputes#respond Fri, 02 Oct 2020 15:36:23 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=22195 During the pandemic, many people have been spending more time at home. But...

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During the pandemic, many people have been spending more time at home. But what rights do you have if your neighbours are creating excessive noise? And how can a Solicitor help you to reach a resolution that works for everyone? Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor ChatPriya Patel from the FJG’s Dispute Resolution team has provided some answers on a few frequently asked questions.

What are the most common neighbour disputes clients come to you for help with?

This list is not intended to be exhaustive however the most common neighbour disputes tend to involve:

  • Rights of way and communal area matters;
  • Adverse possession disputes;
  • Building & construction matters;
  • Boundary and fence disputes;
  • Party Wall Act disputes and obligations;
  • Anti-social behaviour such as; excessive noise, dumping of rubbish, writing graffiti, barking dogs and/or dangerous pets and harassment.
  • General nuisance
  • Dangerous trees, overhanging branches and roots that have spread into a neighbour’s property

What steps should someone take to try and resolve a dispute with their neighbour?

If you feel safe and comfortable one can approach neighbours or the neighbouring land landlord (if the neighbour is renting the property) to try and resolve the dispute directly.

If that does not facilitate a compromise being reached, we advise keeping a record of instances of when problems with relation to the dispute occur. This can be achieved by writing as much as detail as possible about the facts.

It is prudent to ask the relevant council or housing association (if applicable) to help find a mediator who is unbiased and trained to help people resolve disagreements of this type. If the dispute relates to anti-social behaviour, report it to the council and if a hate crime is involved, one can contact the Police so that the matter can be investigated further.

How can mediation help disputing neighbours find a suitable resolution?

Mediation should not be used where there has been a serious act of violence or a criminal act. The reasons why mediation is useful are:

  • It can help to reach a mutually acceptable solution;
  • The mediator is independent and is a fresh pair of eyes to help the parties find a solution;
  • It is a confidential and informal process;
  • It allows control of what happens to be retained by the parties;
  • A mediation can take place at any time and at any place and will be possible sooner than if a trial were to be waited for;
  • When organised by the local authority/housing association there is a free service; and
  • There are potential cost benefits; as both parties can save legal costs by avoiding formal court proceedings

How can a Solicitor help someone to resolve a dispute with their neighbour?

A specialised Solicitor will be able to provide proper advice to identify the legal issues to help resolve the matter as quickly as possible. A Solicitor will also explain the key steps to take in the event that one wishes to institute court proceedings and can help a neighbour to draft a comprehensive pre-action letter and advise in relation to any response(s) received to that letter.

If you require advice in relation to the aforementioned questions, please contact the FJG Dispute Resolution team on 01206 700113 or by email to contact@fjg.co.uk.

For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.

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