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Private client update 15

Government scraps ‘unlawful’ employment tribunal fees

The government has announced that it is scrapping employment tribunal fees following the Supreme Court ruling that they’re unlawful.

Claimants who have paid fees while bringing a case will be given a refund.

The fees were introduced in 2013, with employees having to pay up to £1,200 to bring a claim.  The move was widely criticised for restricting access to justice.  The number of claims brought to tribunals fell by more than 70%.

Following a challenge by the union Unison, the Supreme Court has ruled that the fees are discriminatory, unlawful and unconstitutional.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People’s employment rights are only as good as their ability to enforce them.  Employment tribunal fees have prevented people from getting justice when they’ve been treated unfairly at work.”

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Cancer sufferer awarded £47,000 in discrimination case

A woman who claimed she was subjected to discrimination and harassment while undergoing treatment for cancer has been awarded more than £47,700 compensation.

Eimear Coughlan worked for the Hideaways Club (UK) Ltd, a property investment firm based in London. She was the office manager and personal assistant to the chief executive, Poonam Dhawan-Leach.

Problems arose after she had to undergo surgery and intensive chemotherapy after developing an aggressive form of breast cancer.

She said Ms Leach treated her "sympathetically and with natural concern" at first, allowing her to work flexibly around her treatment schedule and to work from home if she felt particularly unwell.

However, the attitude changed over the following few months. The concession of flexible working was withdrawn and she was told she would have to take sick leave for at least half a day on reduced pay if she had to attend a medical appointment, even if it was only for an hour.

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More than a million people have opened Help to Buy ISAs

More than a million people have opened a Help to Buy ISA, the government savings account designed to enable first time buyers to get on the property ladder.

The scheme was launched on 1 December 2015 to provide potential buyers with the opportunity to save up to £200 a month with the government topping up their contributions by 25%, up to a maximum of £3,000.

First-time house buyers across the UK can open an ISA, which is available for home purchases up to £250,000 (£450,000 in London). If you plan to buy a home with someone who also qualifies, you are each able to separately claim the bonuses on your savings and put both towards the home you are buying.

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Three sisters win dispute over their father’s will

Three sisters have won a dispute with their father’s widow over the validity his will, which he made shortly before he died.

The case involved a man who lived in Grenada with his second wife. In 2014, he had visited England to see his three daughters from his previous marriage. While he was there he executed a will.

He then returned to Grenada where he died aged 74, leaving property in both England and Grenada.

The daughters discovered that his widow had applied for letters of administration of his estate in Grenada on the basis that he had died without making a will.

She assumed ownership of some of his Grenadian property without regard to the interests of his daughters who were entitled under the 2014 will.

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