Newsletters and Articles

Private Client Update 13

22 February 2018 Written by Owen White Catlin Solicitors Category: Newsletters

Woman wins unfair dismissal claim against Marks & Spencer

A woman who was sacked while on sick leave has won her claim of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination against Marks & Spencer.

Sally Roach had worked as a visual merchandiser for the company for 18 years until she had to take a year off work after a hysterectomy operation in 2014. She was dismissed a year later.

Mrs Roach said she felt that she had been treated as if she was “just another number” to the company.

She took legal action and the Employment Tribunal upheld her claims that she had been discriminated against and unfairly dismissed.

The judge said that M&S had “failed to properly assess her medical condition before dismissing her and that failing was entirely their own”. He added: “No reasonable employer would have failed in such a way.”

Mrs Roach was awarded an undisclosed sum in compensation.

Speaking at the end of the case she said: “M&S was my life and I am devastated that a company with such a proud tradition of being good to its staff treated me so terribly.”

A spokesman for M&S said they never comment on individual cases but added: “We have policies in place to ensure we do all we can to accommodate colleagues with health conditions that may impact their ability to carry out their role.” 

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.


Husband ordered to pay wife an extra £1.6m in divorce settlement

A husband who failed to disclose all his assets when negotiating a divorce settlement has been ordered to pay his wife an extra £1.6m.

The couple were both teachers when they married in 1984. The husband began a business in 1988. He owned 99 of the 100 shares and his wife had the other one.

He stopped teaching in 1990 to concentrate on the company, while the wife continued teaching and helped in the business. They had three children by the time they separated in 2002. The husband moved out of the family home and she took no further part in the business.

In 2006, the husband paid the wife £150,000 following their divorce, but she did not sign the deed of settlement that had been drafted.

A meeting conducted by a solicitor who had previously acted for the husband recorded that the wife's acceptance of the proposed deal was conditional on full disclosure.

In 2013, she applied for a financial remedy order. The judge concluded that there had been no full and final settlement, and that the husband had not provided the wife with full disclosure.

The husband was ordered to pay her a lump sum of £1.6m and to transfer 25% of his pension policies and shares to her.

That decision has been upheld by the Court of Appeal. It said it was beyond argument that the wife had a valid claim. The two parties had made equal contributions to the marriage before separation and the wife had played an important role in the business during its infancy.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.


Man must pay £44,000 in family dispute over stepfather’s will

A man has been told he’s liable to pay costs of £44,000 because of his unreasonable behaviour in a family dispute over his stepfather’s will.

The case involved the stepson and the stepfather’s daughter and son. The stepson had looked after the father’s finances in the last 12 months of his life.

Following the father’s death, the daughter was concerned to discover that the estate was far less valuable than she had anticipated. She issued proceedings to determine who should represent the estate and to seek an account of the money that she suspected was missing.

A personal representative was appointed, to whom the stepson was required to give all documents and records relating to the father's financial affairs. However, he failed to deliver the relevant documents.

He argued that, as the daughter’s solicitors had not answered emails he had sent to them, he would not cooperate with their requests. After the court made a disclosure order against him, the stepson went on to disclose a number of documents in a piecemeal fashion over a number of months.

The daughter applied in August 2016 for the stepson to be committed but it was not pursued on the day of the hearing in January 2017 as it was accepted that he had substantially complied with the disclosure order by then.

However, the daughter wanted him to pay the costs of the committal application, which were £44,761.20.

The court found in the daughter’s favour. It held that the evidence showed that the stepson had not wished to cooperate and had dragged his feet. He did not approach the banks for the specific statements until a month after he had been ordered to do so, and he allowed considerable periods of time to pass before chasing up requests.

He had not behaved reasonably and it was appropriate to assess costs at £44,761.20.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.


UK House prices show an annual increase of 6.9%

House prices in the UK rose by 6.9% in the year to October, according to the latest official figures from the Land Registry. However, the number of sales dropped by 8% over the same period.

The price of the average property is now £216,674.

In England, the October data showed an annual price increase of 7.4%, taking the average property value to £232,655. Monthly house prices fell by 0.1% since September 2016.

Wales showed an annual price increase of 4.4%, taking the average property value to £147,065.

Monthly house prices rose by 1% compared with September 2016.

London showed an annual price increase of 7.7%, which took the average property value to £474,475. Monthly house prices fell by 1.2% since September 2016.

The regional data indicates that:

  • the East of England experienced the greatest increase in its average property value over the last 12 months with a movement of 12.3%
  • the East of England also experienced the greatest monthly growth with an increase of 1.3%
  • the North East saw the lowest annual price growth with an increase of 2.7%
  • the North East also saw the most significant monthly price fall with a movement of -1.3%.

Home sales in the UK increased by 1% between September and October. However, the level of home sales in October 2016 was 8.0% lower than in October 2015.

Please contact us if you would like advice about the legal aspects of buying or selling a home.


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