Gordon Turner (as he then was)

 

fish and chips

Fish and chips.

 

Too busy to blog 

I’ve been too busy to blog. However, something critically important happened yesterday and I have decided to comment. In the Public Interest (of course).

Picture the scene. The sun has come out, it’s one o’clock and I am on London’s one and only hill (really a mound at Haverstock). I have just bought fish and chips (exhibit A-pictured). This is a sacred moment. And then, I get one of those calls. From one of my colleagues in the legal profession. From an ivory tower (Canary Wharf is full of them).

Them:

Hi…how are you? Can we talk ‘without prejudice about Mr X?’ 

Me:           Yes.

Them:

Now this is a case that could go either way and etc. etc. and etc. etc. (nervous    laughter, generic observations about ‘robust’ case and ‘entirely confident that’) and a hundred etcs. later…..but not withstanding my client IS willing to make a ‘commercial offer’ to settle at 0.49 p with a standard reference, albeit that the disclaimer on the reference will have more detail than the actual reference.  

Me:

Can you comment on the documents and my summary of the merits? Could you share any elements of the ‘robust’ thing of which you speak? (meaning: evidence, explanations…a spot of law)

Them:

I am not prepared to go into the detail at this point in time….

Chips are down 

This is the serious point. This conversation genuinely ruined my chips.

How could I discuss or recommend a ‘commercial offer’ to my client without anything to think about?

I wonder why some lawyers talk like this. If I spoke to a surgeon who was going to amputate my foot, I would hope at least for a little chat about the whys and wherefores.

A lot of lawyers do this, I am afraid. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of client money seems to be wasted by the anxiety created by legal teams espousing an opinion without justifying it. The real conversations take place at the door of the court when the parties have finally bothered to explain themselves…

The answer to this is quite simple: Cards on the Table. Someone (Lord Woolf, as he then was, told us to do this a while back (actually 1995) but still nobody does it! 

 

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Stop the train!

miss train

The Devil IS the Detail 

Last Friday I was in an Employment Tribunal on a small point with massive implications; my client, a large organisation dealing with difficult social problems, missed a tribunal claim.

An employer only has 28 days in which to lodge a Response, failing which the Claimant gets straight onto the highly motivating topic of ‘what’s it worth’? The Schedule of Loss was for over £40,000 so the ante was quite high (not to be confused with ‘the aunty was quite high’ which conjures up other images).

Kwik Save!

We were saved by Kwik Save (not literally, but a case called Kwik Save Stores Ltd v Swain which deals with missed claims; Mummery J (as he then was) stipulated the factors to be taken into account in admitting a late defence: balancing the needs of the parties and considering issues such as prejudice and proportionality…and the reason offered.

The judge seemed to accept my point: £40,000 for not having the best postal system would be a little disproportionate compared to allowing our defence a little late.

kwik save

The law needs dentists?

Lawyers on the telly are all very dramatic… But in the real world (Watford), it all comes down to quite fine details (the tooth and nothing but the tooth), Knowing where everything is.

So one thing I would do right away, if I managed a business (in fact I do, so I will) is check the inbound postal system. It was a bit hair raising on Friday until we got leave to go ahead.

I was going to say ‘I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy’ but on reflection, I probably would…but not my second worst.

Gordon Turner employment lawyer … (as he then was).

If you’re (Not) looking for trouble….

 

It’s only Employment Law…but I like it!

Elvis looking for trouble

 

New day/New Year

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (in one year and out the other…that’s my son’s joke) is to share ideas for challenging nuisance type claims.

I do seem to spend a lot of time helping employers with claims which, being generous, amount to no more than a load of words in a bucket. This is not to say that all claims are like this…but I feel that the tribunals can be used as a blunt instrument to secure unjustified pay-outs, quite probably due to the ‘no costs’ rule.

This was particularly galling in a case I dealt with recently because every penny spent on this (frankly, me) would be diverted away from the work of my employer: protecting vulnerable children.

One word = £320,000!?

Looking at this 26 page tribunal claim, with 52 ‘detriments’ in just 5 months, you would think 3 script writers from EastEnders had suffered nervous breakdowns, then drunk 24 strong coffees, listened to Phil Collins backwards and then been let loose on typewriters…

Thinking of how to respond to the ‘claims’: bullying, whistleblowing ‘on the high seas’…as I think it was put, grand theft larceny, treasonous libel, harassment and crimes against the Road Traffic Act (this is probably not the full list) I realised fighting this head on would be impossible.

The stated aim of this Claimant, who worked for a matter of months and had found a job anyway, was the modest and improbable sum of £320,000!

It’s only Words  

If I responded in the traditional way, my bill would have been a ‘crime against humanity.’

So instead of taking the bait(s) (all 60)…I made 1 cup of  tea and gazed at all the wordy words (all 40,000). In this state of tranquillity I noticed that the Claimant had forgot to use the ‘D’ word (as in d-for-dismissal). Without a d-for- dismissal or any m-for-medical r-for-report, the claim could be worth no more than f-for-five thousand pounds.

Broadly speaking, that’s how it all went away without any hearing.

H-for-hindsight 

It transpires that after all these years of wordy words (by me) I might be most useful when I say nothing at all.

Troubleshooting 

I think I have developed a bit of a reputation for dealing with these extreme cases. if you Google my name you can see some of the very odd scenarios I have dealt with, many of which have caught national attention. Anyway, I will be creating a webpage to share insight into how these nuisance claims can be brought to heel. This will be on my website shortly: http://www.gtelaw.co.uk or you can email me at: gordon@gtelaw.co.uk if you feel that you need a different approach to a common problem.

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Week- by Asha the intern

Thanks Gordon

keep it short and sweet…

Hi there!

So today is Asha’s last day after 8 weeks interning at Gordon Turner Employment Lawyers! It’s been pretty cool to say the least – I’ve been all over London visiting clients regarding settlement agreements, attended a barrister conference and a tribunal…and watched Gordon deal with clients everyday. 

 

I think the most important thing I learned overall is…don’t take on cases  which will only cause you stress! Not every caller is what you’re looking for. One person called about an incident that happened 20 years ago…the time limit for employment law cases is just 3 months!

 

A lot of people who phoned us did not seem to have facts or concrete evidence to support any case at all. I heard Gordon constantly asking: “what are the facts to support your case?”  If they couldn’t answer that, he did not take them on as clients.

 

I also learned the mantra: “Care, fair & aware”…

 

Be fair to yourself and the client; have realistic goals…check what they want to achieve. Keeping people aware of what is going on makes for better relations and makes them less stressed. 

 

It’s important to take care of yourself too. It can be stressful handling upset people with all the heavy requirements of legal regulations to factor in, so taking exercise and finishing on time matters.

 

 

Thanks Alix

say it with chocolate….

 

It’s been a fun summer and as much as I’m sad to end my internship, I’m excited for the next chapter which is reading Law at the University of Birmingham.

 

As always, thank you for reading, please keep reading.. and enjoy life! 

 

 

 

 

The good, the bad and the barrister…

clever clogs

Everything went wrong! exactly as I said it would.

Hi there!

So for those who don’t know, one day I would like to become a barrister. I wasn’t really sure how solicitors and barristers work together, but this week I went to a conference with counsel in Chancery Lane.

I can see that barristers have to work at the last minute on a case before representing the client whereas the solicitor has dealt with it for many months beforehand. I learned a lot this week about how Gordon cooperates with barristers.

The barrister was really polite and friendly; not your stereotyped villain.

He made the barrister’s job less stressful by carefully briefing him. The facts were really complicated…about how to fly a jet! We had to apply the law to the physics of flight. Even though I am just 18 felt I understood the factual issues to which the Law was to be applied.

I noticed how Gordon and the barrister focused on the weaker areas and not just the strengths. I can see there is no point in ‘hoping for the best’ if a witness is going to be cross-examined in open court.

I also saw how Gordon and the barrister essentially cross-examined their own client.

Even though I have enjoyed interacting with clients, addressing a judge in court like a barrister would be very exciting…not to mention, it would be cool to wear a gown too…although I could do without the wig (from a fashion perspective).

Asha the Intern

Week 6: My trip to Chancery Lane (aka “Law City”)

That’s it for this week. Thank you for reading, please keep reading and remember.. enjoy life!

 

The cost of careless talk at work

careless talk costs

A Joke to Far?

Making tribunals out of molehills

I was asked to comment today in an article about a sex discrimination case (Marion Konczak) where a tribunal ordered her former employer, BAE to pay compensation of over £300,000 following discriminatory comments by a senior employee. As well as commenting on the facts of the case, I offer some practical advice to employers on how to deal with discriminatory banter at work.

Here’s a Link

The case followed a very familiar pattern: a discriminatory remark followed by a closing of ranks ranks which led to the end of the job and significant lost earnings, injury to feelings and personal injury.

There are two very simple ways to minimise the risks: training managers and staff on discrimination can offer a complete defence: “reasonable steps” and also responding promptly and in an open-minded and fair way.

Training at your workplace

I offer workplace training on a ‘fixed fee’ basis anywhere in England- £750 for half a day £1200 for a full day (no travel costs or other ‘ad ons). Having worked with employers and employees for over 25 years, I can provide down to earth explanations and guidance on how to avoid discrimination altogether and, where it does take place, how to handle it effectively and quickly.

These training sessions can be used in evidence in support of the reasonable steps defence I have mentioned.

Employer clients of mine who train staff and managers don’t end up in Employment Tribunals…now fees have been abolished this is something worth thinking about!

Law- what is good for?

fat-lawyers

Reasons to be cheerful…

The link between tribunal fees, Donald Trump and baked beans

Trump

Knee jerk solutions….

Unless you have been in a pothole…

You will know that the Supreme Court has backed Unison’s assertion that Employment Tribunal fees were introduced unlawfully.

The link with Mr Trump (and other recent ‘knee jerk’ events such as Brexit) is that fees  fall into the category of genuine concerns, ignored to the point they blow up under the pressure of common consensus.

We seem to be facing a deluge of  simplistic solutions, propelled by popular appeal.

baked beans

Every bean is sacred, every bean is great!? If a bean gets wasted….

Every baked bean isn’t sacred

Thinking about baked beans keeps me sane.

I have to remind myself that I can only contemplate them as a topic  (or tin) rather than on an item by item basis. This approach made Mr Heinz very, very rich, so do please bear with me.

The ‘baked bean’ issue with Tribunal Claims is that a number of undeserving cases were allowed to stay in the system and force unjustified settlements out of employers. I say this with some personal experience, Mr Berry, whose antics I explored and exposed brought over 100 unjustified age discrimination claims.

Getting anyone in charge (at Tribunal or political level) to take notice or deal with that was virtually impossible. So when the Conservatives brought in fees, it was on the back of popular opinion; the need to stop this ‘have a go’ culture.

Pause for thought

As I get older, and so infinitely wiser(?)..I have realised that boring solutions are much better than exciting ones.

So here is a boring idea that would have the effect of stopping the likes of Mr Berry without depriving deserving Claimants of justice. If there was a more general right to ‘stay’ (or stall) proceedings available to tribunal judges, pending clarification of preliminary issues, or to require good behaviour from litigants, this would stop the steam train of legal activity which quickly drives up unjustified employer costs.

 

stay just a little bit

Instead of debarring claims with cruel fees we might stay them (just a little bit longer).

 

 

 

Week 4: Asha the Intern!

Asha the Intern

New to Law

Hello! Asha calling from Gordon Turner Employment Lawyers…

 

This week was the first time I actually met a number of clients myself regarding settlement agreements and it has been a massive confidence booster! I didn’t want to present myself as a shy character because I’m not. But in a professional environment it’s perhaps harder to remain calm and well spoken. 

 

I learned about the importance of planning, arranging a time and place to meet and keeping the client’s aware.

 

Although my tasks were simple I was still conscious about arriving early (especially because I had never used the tube before and their occasional delays) and that I didn’t say anything that may be misleading to the client because I don’t have the legal knowledge of a qualified employment solicitor. 

 

The more I met clients, the more natural I felt and some even remembered me from previous visits which was nice to know! 

 

Being confident when speaking is an asset. Sometimes I wasn’t certain on the precise answer to give to the clients questions (so I rang Gordon for help), this week has definitely been a learning curve; knowing how to interact with clients and to keep them happy is just as important as the legal advice lawyers provide. 

 

As always, thank you for reading, please keep reading and remember… enjoy life! 

Good Will Hunting!

Asha the Intern

Watch out, there’s an Asha about!

 

Hi there! For those following my blog will know that I am now an intern at Gordon Turner’s firm.

 

Amongst the many things I have already learned is how to treat clients. So I am dedicating my weekly blog to ‘goodwill’ -which I can see is essential to a legal business.

 

Coming from Preston I have found trecking across this massive City to be really exciting. I met several clients in person and hand delivered their documents. We could have just posted them but I noticed how surprised these clients were…that I personally visited them. 

 

You came all the way to my work just to give this to me” ….one client said.

 

I have heard of lawyers being stereotyped as stern and I realised this week how important it is to ensure the client feels like they are taken care of. It makes them confident in you and more relaxed. I can see it is important to build a personal working relationship with the client. 

 

The very simple yet obvious step (hand delivering documents) saved my boss, the client and also their employer a lot of time and chasing up.

 

I have learned about goodwill and saw with my own eyes (and experienced with my own footwork!) that one Settlement Agreement dealt with this way generated several more.

 

Last week my blog was focused on marketing but this week I have learned the power of good old fashioned manners. Being helpful doesn’t cost a thing and seems to be more powerful than brochures and websites!

 

Thank you for reading, please keep reading and remember.. enjoy life! 

 

Asha Patel

Less words more justice

Andrex

Master of the Rolls…..

Words and employment law

I am reading an Employment Tribunal Decision. It is several pages long and relates to a bundle which of 300 pages. Being an employment lawyer involves wading through lots of words.

Parties to an employment dispute have much more interraction than in other types of claims. Sometimes one sentence in an email can be crucial. But as we know, there are lots of emails these days and email chains can go on and on and on…missing a key point can ruin a legal strategy or even cause injustice.

Also, some lawyers tend to think that prose is superior to particulars. Dentists don’t suffer from this notion/affliction and yet teeth are looked after.

william shakespeare

There’s only one William Shakespeare

…Methinks.

simple list

More matter less art!

If there is a dispute at work and you are an HR manager (or similar), you can save literally trillions of pounds, entire rain forests and years of your life (probably) by reducing the issues to a LIST right at the start: event, date and evidence in support (all in a neat bundle with no copies).

 

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