About us

Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Friday
Nov092018

Government considering re-introducing Employment Tribunal Fees

Having recently attended the Employment Tribunal User Forum, we’re aware that claims have more than doubled in the period April to June 2018 (up by 165%) compared to the same period in 2017. The most likely reason for this is due to the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor quashing tribunal fees on 26 June 2017. In that case, the Supreme Court concluded that many people found the fees unaffordable and had been denied access to justice. The Court declared that the level of tribunal fees was unlawful and prevented access to justice. 

Tribunals are (understandably) struggling to cope with the increased workload, with an increasing backlog of cases (of up to 8 months in some instances). This has resulted in applications being missed/delayed and hearings being postponed etc. 

Perhaps with an eye to these issues, it is being reported in the Law Society Gazette that the government is considering reintroducing tribunal fees. Whilst no detail is given, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said it is confident that a fee system can be found which does not deny claimants access to justice. This follows on from a written answer in Hansard in the summer, where the MoJ said it was reviewing how (not whether) it would reintroduce fees. Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the MoJ stated “We have to get the fee level right. I can see a scheme working that is both progressive and allows people out of paying fees where they can’t afford to.”

Since the fees were quashed, individuals have been able to apply for a refund. In 2017/2018 refund payments totalled £7.1m and since the end of the financial year in April 2018 the MoJ has, on a cumulative basis, made refunds totalling £15.8m.

Whilst there are no immediate plans to re-introduce tribunal fees we will keep you updated as the debate unfolds.

If you have any questions on employment law please contact Selene Holden (seleneholden@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717436), Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446) or Angharad Ellis Owen (mailto:aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453).  

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Thursday
Nov082018

Decision reached on smash and grab adjudications

Back in 2014, The Hon. Mr Edwards-Stuart made what was then a controversial decision in the case of ISG Construction Ltd v Seevic College. In this case, he decided that if an employer failed to serve a valid Payment or Pay Less Notice in time, then it had to pay the notified sum, and could not challenge that sum (and thus seek repayment of it) until the final payment, which may be some significant time later.

This remained the position until February 2018 when The Hon. Lord Justice Coulson sent shockwaves through the industry by deciding in the case of Grove Developments Ltd v S&T (UK) Ltd that the decision reached by Sir Edwards-Stuart in ISG Construction Ltd v Seevic College was wrong (and thus that an employer who had failed to serve a valid Payment or Pay Less Notice, could cross adjudicate on the “true value” of the payment application). Indeed, it was such an important decision that Lord Coulson himself stated as follows:

“In all my time in the TCC, I am not conscious that I have ever concluded that one of my colleagues, past or present, was wrong in deciding an issue in a certain way. I am not entirely comfortable about doing it now, particularly given the distinguished nature of Edwards-Stuart J's service to this court. But the conflict in the cases is all too apparent and, for the reasons which I have given, I find myself unable to follow the "different line" that he took in ISG v Seevic and Galliford Try v Estura”

Given the importance of this decision, it is perhaps unsurprising that it went to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has now issued its judgment and has upheld the decision reached by Lord Coulson in Grove v S&T.  Sir Rupert Jackson gave the leading judgment, and found as follows:

  • An employer can start an adjudication to dispute the true value of the works for which the contractor claimed in an interim application for payment, even if it had not served a valid payment or pay less notice.
  • However, and the crucial point to the construction industry, the employer's valuation adjudication could only be started after it had paid the notified sum.

The only exception to this position may be if an employer is able to establish that the contractor is insolvent, and therefore could seek a stay of execution of an adjudicator’s decision to pay the contractor the notified sum, pending their own valuation adjudication.

Therefore, an employer who has failed to serve a valid Payment Notice or Pay Less Notice is no longer in such a quandary as they were pre Grove v S&T. However, they will still have to pay the notified sum, pending being able to commence their own adjudication. This could cause real hardship if the notified sum has been vastly over-inflated by the contractor. Therefore, it remains the case that an employer must be vigilant in responding to a payment application in time, and in accordance with the provisions of the contract. 

Sarah Western is a solicitor specialising in construction law. If you have any queries in respect of this decision, or need any construction legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact her on 01284 717434, or sarahwestern@greene-greene.com.

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Thursday
Nov082018

Blended family (What you do for love)

Alicia Keys’ 2016 song Blended Family (What you do for love) includes the line “It may not be easy this blended family…but that’s what you do for love”.

Blended families are increasingly common. With approximately 42% of marriages ending in divorce there are now many families that feature step-parents. Statistics suggest that 1 in 2 divorced parents go on to re-marry or re-partner. They may then have further children with that partner.

Modern families may be evolving, but the law is not always as responsive.

One of the key considerations for family lawyers when dealing with children issues is whether a person has parental responsibility for a child. It is important to remember that not all parents have parental responsibility and it is also possible for step-parents or other family members or, in some cases friends, to acquire it.

What is parental responsibility and why is it important?

The Children Act 1989 describes parental responsibility as all rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority that a parent has in relation to a child and that child’s property.

Essentially parental responsibility gives the holder the right to a say in major decisions in a child’s life such as consenting to medical treatment on their behalf and making decisions about schooling.

Parental responsibility can be acquired in a number of ways:

  1. A child’s biological mother will always have parental responsibility;
  2. A child’s biological father will obtain parental responsibility if he is:
    • Married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or they later marry;
    • They enter into a parental responsibility agreement or the court makes a parental responsibility order or a child arrangements order providing for the child to live with the father;
    • The father is registered on the child’s birth certificate as being the child’s father (for all births registered on or after 1st December 2003)
  3. Another family member or friend can obtain parental responsibility by:
    • The court making a child arrangements order in their favour that the child live with them;
    • By being appointed as guardian for the child in a biological parent’s Will (provided there is no other surviving person with parental responsibility)
  4. A step parent can obtain parental responsibility by:
    • Entering into a step-parent parental responsibility agreement with all parents that hold parental responsibility;
    • In the ways outlined above for other family members and friends.

In many blended families step-parents may look after step-children day to day perhaps alongside their biological children of the relationship. They may well consider and treat their step-children no differently from their biological children, but from a legal perspective there are important differences.

Unless a step-parent has acquired parental responsibility they will not have the right to have a say in major decisions such as medical treatment and schooling. Doctors and schools may be unable to share information with a step-parent. This can also lead to significant issues if a step-parent wishes to travel abroad with their step-child without a biological parent being present.

In some families one of the biological parents may not have played an active role in their child’s life for a number of years.

The situation can be complicated and it is important to take specialist advice to understand your own situation.

At Greene and Greene, Melanie Pilmer, solicitor in our family department can provide you with specialist advice when you make your Will with us or at any stage can talk through the various options available to you if this is an area that is causing you concerning. Please contact Melanie on 01284 717418 or melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com.

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Part 1 of 2.

Thursday
Nov082018

Data breach by rogue employee – are you insured?

Last week the Court of Appeal handed down a significant judgment in the case of WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court that Morrisons was vicariously liable for a data breach caused by a rogue employee.

In 2014, Mr Skelton, a senior IT auditor (who had a grudge against his employer following disciplinary action the year before), published personal and confidential information of almost 100,000 Morrisons employees on the internet; the information was also sent to three newspapers.

Mr Skelton’s role involved the receiving, storing and disclosing of payroll data to auditors. However, the breach occurred when he published personal data from his home, on his personal computer and outside of working hours.

Over 5,500 employees brought claims against Morrisons for damages for misuse of private information and breach of confidence.

The Court of Appeal agreed that what happened was a ”seamless and continuous sequence of events” and was within the field of activities assigned to Mr Skelton by Morrisons.

What is novel about this case is that it is the first reported case in which the motive of the employee was to deliberately harm the employer, rather than for any personal gain.

The Court of Appeal was not persuaded by the argument that a finding of vicarious liability in this case would result in ‘Doomsday’ or ‘Armageddon’ for employers. The Court of Appeal recognised that data breaches may, depending on the circumstances, lead to a large number of claims against companies for potentially ruinous amounts. However, it observed that a solution would be for employers to insure against catastrophes, and losses caused by dishonest or malicious employees.

It is understood that Morrisons intend to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mr Skelton was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in July 2015 for his actions.

If you have any questions on employment law or data protection please contact Selene Holden (seleneholden@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717436), Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446) or Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453).  

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Wednesday
Oct032018

Employment Barrister Angharad is competing at Horse of the Year Show

On Thursday Angharad who works in our employment team will be competing with her horse, Woody at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). HOYS is “the world’s most famous horse show” which most horse owners and riders aspire to be a part of.

Earlier this month the pair were champion at the British Show Horse Association National Championship Show. 

We wish them the best of luck at HOYS.

Friday
Aug312018

Who's ready for the Accumulator Challenge ?

Greene & Greene is proud to announce that it will once again be participating in the 2018 Jacobs Allen Accumulator Challenge in aid of St Nicholas Hospice Care.

To raise funds for this incredible charity we invite local businesses to take part in our Laser Tag Tournament at Planet Laser on Western Way in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday 20th September from 6pm. Entry this year is £150 per team of up to 6 people which includes a hot and cold buffet at the venue after the tournament.

All proceeds will go to St Nicholas Hospice.

If your business would like to participate in the challenge for this year’s title of ‘Laser Tag Champions’, please contact andrewcooper@greene-greene.com by Monday 10th September.

We look forward to seeing you in the arena!