Legal questions answered

Below are the answers to the questions we’ve been asked.

Employment Law

1 My boss is treating me badly and it's making my life a misery - I am sure this must be against the law- what can I do? How much will it cost if I take action- what are the risks ( I don't want to lose my job)

If you don’t want to lose your job, then you must lodge a formal written grievance concerning the treatment to which you refer so as to allow your employer the opportunity of putting matters right. If they do not in consequence of having raised the grievance, then you can (a) appeal against the grievance findings as a last report or alternatively, you could consider resignation and potential constructive dismissal if you believe that your continued employment is untenable. However, I would recommend you seek legal advice before you tender your resignation to ascertain the strength of a constructive dismissal claim if you were to go down that route. No Win No Fee may be available to pursue a constructive dismissal claim if the prospects of success are sufficient.

This answer was supplied by Morris Legal

2 One of my employees has made a false accusation against me - what are my options?

Raise a complaint / grievance with your employer although the employer may resist dealing with it on the basis the accusations may not be not work related. If the accusations are largely unrelated to work, you may also wish to consult a Solicitor to write a letter to the person threatening legal action in defamation or similar if they continue.

This answer was supplied by Morris Legal

3 I think I have just been unfairly dismissed (got the sack) - how and why "can" a boss legally sack me - how do I know if I have a case? If I do have a case - what do I do- how much should it cost me to take up the case- win or loose what are the likely outcomes?

Employers can legally dismiss if there is a potentially fair reason for dismissal (conduct, capability, redundancy etc); they follow a reasonable procedure in terms of investigations and meetings and make a decision that falls within a band of reasonable responses of a reasonable employer. If they do not, they risk an unfair dismissal finding. To challenge the fairness of a dismissal you would look at the procedures the employer has or hasn’t followed; whether they have carried out a full and proper investigation, whether they have presented all available evidence to the employee for comment; whether they have held all appropriate investigatory, disciplinary or appeal hearings and ultimately whether their decision fell within the band of reasonable responses of a reasonable employer. An employment law solicitor can advise you whether you have a case with merit and if so then No Win No Fee representation may be available as well as assistance through a Union, under a legal expenses household insurance policy, an hourly rate or via some other form of free representation. If you win, you could ask for reinstatement and/or damages, although reinstatement is rarely ordered. If you lose, you would not normally have to pay anything to the other side unless your case never had any merit or the claim was in some way vexatious.

This answer was supplied by Morris Legal


I dont know what else to do? I lived in a 1 bed flat for 6 months. Paid £893 deposit. I left the property in May and the agent is trying to keep my deposit for electric for 3 months.

They say I owe £1200 for 3 months electricy in the 1 bed. I do not think this is even close to what I actually used. Southern Electric say the flat isn’t on their database so I am unable to check. The landlord said he has reduced the bill from £1200 plus to £908. Now I have threatened them with a solicitor they have said to make an offer or he is willing to pay half. I then offered them £300, which I think is more than enough - they have declined and now I am stuck.

Can you point me in the right direction please or do you think it is possible I have used over a grand in electric in 3 months in a 1 bed (I work 8 - 5)? It is my 1st flat so I dont know what to do, please help?

This sounds extremely suspicious. We have a 4 bedroom property with 4 people who leave lights on all the time etc and it costs less than £80/ Month. Ask the agent for a record of the meter readings and details of the cost per KW/h. D you have details of meter reading? If he wants to take you to court this is something he will have to provide to you and the court will want to see anyway.

What does it say in the rental agreement about energy costs? Is it a fixed monthly fee or based on meter readings? If it is meter readings send them a letter saying the charge is excessive and you reasonably require a detailed breakdown of kWh used and the unit cost and until this info is provided payment will not be made.

Please get in touch with us if you would like further advice.

A friend of mine rented a garage and has some of my property stored there, he has since fallen out with his family down here and has left the area taking the key to the garage with him and is now refusing to hand over my goods and refusing payment to the council.

I have offered to take over payment of the garage if he can't afford to keep it up and he initially agreed to this but has since refused to post the key and he is claiming we have stolen his property.

We have had no luck dealing with the Council or the Police and Citizens Advice are currently closed due to cutbacks. Is there a way to recover our property as I suspect he will continue to refuse to pay, the council will take back the garage and remove the property in lieu of rent.

If your friend is unwilling to return your goods voluntarily or provide you with access to the garage, you will need to make an application to court for an order for delivery up of the goods or in the alternative bring a claim against your friend for damages.

If the agreement between your friend and the Council has come to an end, the general position is that your friend will be obliged to remove all goods from the garage and give the Council vacant possession - this however depends on the express terms of the agreement between your friend and the Council. It seems that your friend is unlikely to take any action and will leave your goods in the garage once the agreement has come to an end. In these circumstances, the goods will remain your property and the Council will be an "involuntary bailee". This is a complicated area of law but essentially the Council will have a duty to take reasonable care of your goods whilst they are in the Council's possession. The Council should take steps to find the original owner of the goods and give you an opportunity to remove them.

To avoid any potential problems in the future, I suggest that you write to the relevant department at the Council immediately and make them fully aware of your situation. You should also provide them with your contact details. The Council will then be in a position to contact you should your friend not pay the rent and the Council take back possession of the garage. I note that you have approached the Council but a written letter would be appropriate in this case. If the Council mistakenly sell your goods, then you may have a claim against the Council for damages.

This answer was supplied by O'Neill Patient Solicitors LLP

Family & Divorce

Is adultery grounds for divorce?

To get divorced in the UK, it is necessary for a couple to demonstrate that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. There are 5 ways that such a breakdown can be demonstrated.

  1. Adultery
  2. Desertion
  3. Two years’ separation without consent
  4. Five years’ separation (with or without consent)
  5. Unreasonable behaviour

An alternative ‘no fault divorce’ should be available soon. No fault will allow couples to end their marriage without having to demonstrate any of the 5 points above and is widely thought to be beneficial to couples and their children, as it will remove the need for spouses to blame one another for the failure of their marriage.

Regardless of the above, adultery will not count against you during a divorce. Judges understand that marriage breakdown is rarely the fault of just one of the spouses.

This answer was supplied by Stowe Family Law LLP

My partner/ I have committed adultery what should I do?

Sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex is considered adultery until decree absolute has been finalised. Some people believe that if they are separated that it wont be classed as adultery but that is not the case. Its also interesting to note that in the UK adultery only applies to full sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Many people confuse adultery with infidelity, but the latter has a broader meanings. Under UK law its infidelity that can be used to demonstrate a breakdown of the relationship (see ‘Is adultery grounds for divorce’)

Even when adultery has occurred, it is mandatory to demonstrate that the trust in the relationship has irretrievably broken down and that you find your partner intolerable to live with.

Remember, the clock is ticking! If you live with your spouse as a couple for a period of more than six months (or periods which together amount to more than six months) after you find out about the adultery, you would not be able to rely on it to seek a divorce.

This answer was supplied by Stowe Family Law LLP

Disclaimer: This does in no way constitute legal advice and this info is added for general information and illustration purposes and should not to be used in specific cases. Please seek help from a solicitor as no legal case is identical and the law changes regularly.

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