Legal News 2011 Roundup

Dated:   

January


The Employment Appeal Tribunal delivered its judgment in the case of Bullock v Norfolk County Council. It was stated that a foster carer is not a ‘worker’ within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and 1999.

For a person to be considered as a ‘worker,’ a contract must be in place. The relationship between a foster carer and a local authority is not contractual.

Importantly in this case, this meant that the Claimant (Bullock) was not entitled to trade union representation at a meeting whereby the authority was considering withdrawing her approval as a foster parent.

February


The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased to £68,400. The maximum amount for a week’s pay (used for calculating the basic award component, as well as the statutory redundancy payment) increased to £400.00 per week.

Guarantee pay (paid for any complete day that a person is laid-off) also increased to £22.20 per day.

Unfair dismissal claims

March


The Family Justice Review panel delivered its interim report. This recommended measures such as:

  • A new Family Justice Service led by a National Family Justice Board, to ‘draw the key functions of agencies together and see children and families all the way through the justice system with greater support and more efficiently’
  • A unified family court system, streamlining services to replace the current three-tier system, creating more flexibility for family hearings.

May


The Housing Act 2004 made it a requirement that all deposits paid under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy need to be paid into an approved scheme within 14 days of receipt.

However, in Potts v Densley and Another [2011], a landlord was not penalised for failing to put a residential deposit into an approved scheme in time, as long as it had done so before the hearing.

June


On 20th June, new vehicle insurance laws came into force. Motorists are now required to legally declare a vehicle as being ‘off the road.’ Continuous Insurance Enforcement means that it is now illegal to merely keep an uninsured vehicle, even if it is not driven or kept on the road. This went beyond the existing rules, which applied only to those actually driving a vehicle without insurance.

Those failing to adhere to the new laws will be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £100. If the vehicle remains uninsured, court action will follow which can result in a further fine of £1,000.

July


The 31 July 2011 was the cut-off date for people who had been diagnosed with pleural plaques to make an application under the Government Scheme for a one off payment of £5000.

In 2007, the House of Lords upheld a Court of Appeal decision which meant that people diagnosed with pleural plaques could not make a civil claim for compensation. The Government put in place a Scheme which was open for one year for people to apply for the one off payment.

August


In Bowen and others v The National Trust [2011], it was held that the Trust owed children a duty under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and the general law of tort, but they did not have an obligation to ensure the safety of visitors. The Defendant’s legal duty was to ‘take reasonable care to provide reasonable safety'.

Bowen and other children were on a school trip and were sheltering under a tree when the branch from the tree fell and hit the school party.

September


The Employment Appeal Tribunal delivered its judgment in the case of Bullimore v Pothecary Witham Weld Solicitors and another (UKEAT/0189/10).

An unfavourable reference was given by the Claimant’s former employer. This was said to have been influenced by a previous Tribunal claim brought by the Claimant, leading to a prospective employer withdrawing a job offer. Both Respondents were held to have victimised the claimant, but the previous employer was liable in respect of a loss of earnings claim.

Agency Workers Regulation – Employment law advice

October


On 1 October 2011, the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 came into force.

After a 12 week qualifying period, agency workers are entitled to the same treatment as those recruited directly, with reference to rights such as:

  • Pay
  • Holidays
  • Rest breaks
  • Information on job vacancies

Breaks of six weeks or more in length will reset the qualifying period.

November


In the case of McDermott v Pettit [2011] a pedestrian claimed damages following a road traffic accident. He had been knocked down by a driver who had been drinking prior to the accident.

The pedestrian was said to have contributed by 10%, as he had made a ‘culpable error of judgment’ in choosing not to use a pedestrian crossing which was some 10m from where he had crossed the road. Further, he should have allowed the vehicle to pass, given the approach of the vehicle, its speed and the fact that green lights were showing at the crossing.

December


The Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in the case of Dufosse v Melbry Events Ltd. Mrs Dufosse, an elderly grandmother, had visited the Grotto at a ‘well known department store’ with her family. She stated that she had lost her balance by stepping on a plastic icicle, (a Christmas tree bauble), on the floor of the grotto and had thereby injured her leg.

Having lost her case at first instance, the Court of Appeal held that it was not Mrs Dufosse’s duty to ensure that there were no tripping hazards in the grotto, but instead this fell to Santa and the elf. It was therefore held that no contributory negligence should be taken into account.


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