Slater and Gordon Lawers Blog | Legal Services Blog
Slater and Gordon is one of the UK’s largest law firms across a number of offices in England, Scotland & Wales. Our mission is to give people easier access to world class legal services. With over 90 years’ experience, our reputation is built on the range of expertise offered by our partners and staff on the scope of their practical experience.
Figures cited by Regtransfers reveal that just over half (52%) of Britain’s most dangerous roads pass through the English capital, with the highest accident rate in London recorded on the A1010. The rate of accidents on this road was found to be more than eight times higher than the national average.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 most dangerous highways (per one million vehicle miles driven):
A49 (North West) - accident rate of 26.12
A1010 (London/ East of England) - accident rate of 12.7
A107 (London) - accident rate of 8.38
A105 (London) - accident rate of 6.75
A315 (South West/ London) - accident rate of 6.7
A112 (London) - accident rate of 6.25
A400 (London) - accident rate of 4.4
A4020 (London) - accident rate of 3.93A219 (London) - accident rate of 3.87
A215 (London) - accident rate of 3.87
The most dangerous roads across the regions
The most dangerous roads across the British regions that didn’t make the top 10 included:
A4040 (West Midlands) - accident rate of 3.3
A1079 (Yorkshire and Humber) - accident rate of 3.11
A7 (Scotland) - accident rate of 3.1
A15 (East Midlands) - accident rate of 2.87
A420 (South East) - accident rate of 2.76
A193 (North East) - accident rate of 2.53
A487 (Wales) - accident rate of 2.05
A134 (East) - accident rate of 1.76
A39 (South West) - accident rate of 1.56
Regtransfers’ statistics are based on traffic volumes and accidents spanning 10 years from 2007 to 2016.
Road deaths hit a five-year high
Vehicle safety systems are improving all the time, and figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders suggest that the number of road accidents in the UK has dropped by almost 10% since 2012. However, the number of fatal accidents across the country saw a spike in 2016. Government figures revealed that a total of 1,792 road traffic accident deaths were recorded during the 12-month period. This was a rise of 4% on the previous year and it was the highest level since 2011. The number of pedestrian deaths saw the highest year-on-year increase of 10%, while car occupant deaths rose by 8%.
Common causes of accidents
There are of course many causes of accidents. However, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the most common causes of fatal crashes include:
Speeding - Excessive speed is one of the major factors in many road accidents. In 2013, over 3,000 people were seriously or fatally injured in accidents where speed was cited as a factor. Driving too fast gives motorists less time to react in an emergency and it increases the risk that they’ll lose control of their vehicles. Also, if an accident does happen at speed, the consequences are likely to be more serious. For example, the risk of a pedestrian dying is four times greater if they’re struck at 40mph than if they’re hit at 30mph.
Drink driving - Government statistics reveal that in 2015, an estimated 200 people were killed in drink drive-related accidents and 1,170 were seriously injured.
Not wearing a seatbelt - The law requires that drivers and passengers aged 14 and over must wear a seatbelt in cars, vans and commercial vehicles, and drivers are responsible for ensuring that children under 14 either wear a seatbelt or use a suitable child restraint. Despite this, some drivers and passengers fail to take this safety measure - and if they’re involved in accidents, they’re much more likely to suffer serious injuries as a result. In addition, unbelted rear passengers can cause potentially serious injuries to drivers and front seat passengers.
Careless or aggressive driving - A poll conducted by Brake and Direct Line found that one in seven respondents said they’d been forced to take evasive action on the roads due to risky overtaking, while 94% had witnessed dangerous overtaking. This type of behaviour is just one example of careless and aggressive driving that can put people’s lives at risk.
Motorists who fail to look - A 2012 report released by the Department for Transport showed that 42% of all crashes studied involved people ‘failing to look properly’ when driving.
Make a compensation claim
Regardless of the cause, experiencing an accident on the roads can be highly traumatic. It can affect you physically, psychologically and financially. If you’ve suffered an accident on the roads and you think someone else was either partially or fully at fault, you may be able to claim compensation for your suffering. The expert personal injury solicitors at Slater and Gordon will be able to assess whether you have a claim and, if you do, they’ll guide you through this process.
The vast majority of our road traffic accident claims (98%) are funded through No Win, No Fee arrangements, so you can pursue compensation without risking your own finances. To find out more about our services, contact us online or call us on freephone [[CallbackNumber]].
You should give careful thought to challenging your bonus if it is significantly less than in previous years, it does not reflect your performance, or is different to the sum previously agreed with your employer.
But when is it appropriate to challenge a bonus and what are your legal rights? Below, we explore some of the most common scenarios.
You were not paid the bonus set out in your contract
In some cases, you will be contractually entitled to a bonus. These agreements can be in the form of a golden handshake, where you have been promised a certain sum when you leave job, or where you have achieve clearly identified targets. Your employer could also be obliged to pay you a bonus if they are awarded as part of the “custom and practice” of a business – for example, where bonuses have regularly been paid over a period of years where certain standards have been reached. If that bonus is not paid or is too low, a claim for breach of contract could be pursued at either the County Court (for claims up to £50,000) or High Court (for claims over £50,000). Such a claim would need to be submitted within six years of the breach.
Your bonus constitutes a part of your wages
A bonus can sometimes be considered part of your wages where, for example, your employer has agreed to pay you a quantifiable sum of money if you achieve a certain target – maybe a proportion of profit you attain or if you hit a sales figure. If your bonus then falls short of what was agreed, you can take a claim to an Employment Tribunal under s.13 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 for unlawful deductions from wages. These claims can be pursued while you still work for an employer or within three months of the termination of your employment.
You were not paid your bonus because of discrimination
You could challenge a bonus if you have been denied one or you’ve been paid less than you were entitled to because of discrimination relating to your age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disabilty or marital or transgender status. If this were the case, it would be a breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Such claims may arise for example where a woman has not received her correct bonus entitlement following a period of maternity leave, where individuals with disabilities are not awarded bonuses due to their levels of absence, or where a macho culture in a workplace leads to men receiving higher awards, without objective foundation. Claims relating to discrimination are heard in the Employment Tribunal and should be brought within three months of the discriminatory act (or six months for equal pay claims).
Does it matter if my bonus is contractual, discretionary or deferred?
Even if your bonus is discretionary or deferred, you may still be able to pursue one of the claims above.
Where the bonus scheme is discretionary, it is possible to challenge an award on the grounds that the discretion has been exercised unfairly or unreasonably. This means that discretion cannot be exercised on irrational or perverse grounds and an employer cannot consider irrelevant factors, nor should it fail to consider relevant factors. For example, where you have reached all targets but have been awarded a low bonus supposedly on the grounds of individual performance, this may be considered to be an unfair exercise of discretion which could lead to a claim.
For deferred bonus schemes (often referred to as an LTIPS award), the bonus award will usually vest only once a certain period of time or other condition has been met. The award of a deferred bonus would be subject to the same requirements. For example, cancelling all share options following termination may be considered irrational, where the award had been granted to reward past performance.
How can I challenge my bonus?
Talk to your line manager: Often the quickest and easiest a way to challenge a bonus is to have a discussion with your line manager. They may be able to provide you with an explanation regarding the amount offered, or be able to consider any points you may raise to try to resolve matters.
Raise a formal grievance: If you are not happy with your line manager’s response, you could consider raising a formal grievance in accordance with your employer’s grievance policy. This can be a good option if you intend to continue working for your employer and you want to try to resolve the matter internally. If a bonus is unfair, it is possible to reach a settlement at this time.
Take a claim to tribunal: If these internal processes are unsuccessful, you may then wish to consider seeking legal advice regarding a potential claim before the Court or Tribunal. And any claim to the Employment Tribunal must now first go through an early conciliation process with ACAS, to see if the complaint can be settled before the claim is submitted.
Am I entitled to a bonus if I recently left the company?
It is not uncommon for bonus policies to include clauses restricting eligibility where the individual is either under notice or has left at the time of payment. You should always consider your contract and any bonus policy carefully when deciding if and when to hand in your notice.
Equally, if your employer has issued you with notice, consider whether there would be any impact on your eligibility for a bonus. For example, if you’ve been asked to work your notice (and may therfore be working at the time the bonus is paid) will that be more worthwhile than being offered a pay in lieu of notice.
"Good leavers” versus “bad leavers”- how will that affect my bonus?"
The reason for termination may also impact on your bonus. In particular with deferred bonus schemes, it is common that those considered “good leavers” such as those leaving by way of redundancy or retirement, will often receive their full entitlements.
Those considered “bad leavers” including for example those who have been dismissed for gross misconduct, will often forfeit their awarded but unpaid bonus amounts. These are sometimes matters that can be negotiated as part of an exit strategy, so we would recommend seeking legal advice on your position before resigning from your role.
Of course if you would like to discuss this with an employment lawyer you can contact one of specialist team of solicitors on [[CallbackNumber]] or contact us online.
An executor of a will is an individual who has been appointed to take responsibility of someone’s estate in the event of their death.
Your estate is everything that you own at the date of your death. This can be anything from money, your house to a car, pet or even smaller items like a piece of jewellery.
Executors will then take on the responsibility of carrying out the deceased individuals last wishes, making sure they are fulfilled. This will include making sure everyone who has been identified as a ‘beneficiary’ of the estate, receives their inheritance.
What does an executor of a will have to do?
Following the person's death the executor must deal with a number of matters concerning the estate. These issues will include:
Establishing any special directions by the deceased as to how they wish to be laid to rest or if they wish for their body to be donated for medical research
Collecting all of their assets
Evaluate the size of the estate and the amount of any liability to inheritance tax
Paying outstanding debts incurred by the deceased
Making sure the will is filed in the appropriate court
Setting up a bank account for the estate
Identify the beneficiaries and the nature and extent of their entitlement
Keeping the assets safe until they can be distributed to the right people.
Paying the final income taxes
Who is usually an executor of a will?
The executor of your will can be anyone you see fit and competent to take on the responsivity of handing your estate. This can include a firm of solicitors.
If you appoint a spouse or civil partner and the marriage or civil partnership ends, their time as your executor will also desist unless you otherwise state so within the will.
Why do I need an executor of a will?
If your will does not mention an executor, then one of the beneficiaries will have to step forward as a personal representative of the estate. If it cannot be decided who will be the personal representative then the probate court will appoint someone to be your personal representative. There are a list of priorities a court will take into consideration when appointing this person and it may not result in being the individual you would have chosen.
How do you appoint an executor of a will?
Executors are appointed by stating their name in a valid will. Before appointing the person in the legal document you should notify them to make sure that they are happy to be appointed and that their contact details are up to date.
What can I do if there is a dispute over the executor of a will? Can I challenge it?
A solicitor can help you try and resolve a dispute informally, keeping it out of court. If disputes cannot be informally resolved then executors may apply to the court for directions. The court has the power to revoke or issue a grant in favour of one executor over the other.
If the beneficiaries are not satisfied with the executors dealing with the estate the court can, in extreme cases, cause the executor to be replaced. If there are two or more, the court may decide to terminate one or more but not all of the executors.
Precious Igbokwe is an associate solicitor in our wills team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
They formed pressure groups, organised petitions, marched and took physical action in their fight for equality.
Yet it still took another ten years for them to get the vote on the same terms as men. Forty years after that, in 1968, it was the strike by the sewing machinists at Ford Dagenham that led to the Equal Pay Act in 1970.
There’s no doubting there have been many achievements in the battle for gender equality over the years and we’ve certainly come a long way.
But sadly, while inequalities were obvious 100 years ago – women knew they had a poor deal with no right to vote - the struggle isn’t over and the fight for many of us nowadays is to banish more insidious forms of discrimination and inequality.
From shining a light on the gender pay gap and sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, it’s important to keep the dialogue going and remind women that being treated the same as their male counterparts is a right and not a privilege. While the law can provide a framework for equality, what we need is real equality that matters on a day to day basis.
We need to tackle unconscious bias and stereotyping, which often starts at early age in our school years.
For example, the subjects that girls are often encouraged to take and study, and the career paths that they are encouraged to follow, and more importantly it is how women are perceived in the workplace once they decide to have children.
Today, women have the right to request flexible working. They don’t have a guaranteed right to work flexibly. More often than not, it is a woman who sacrifices her career to raise children or take on caring responsibilities.
Whilst the last 50 years have seen the women’s movement push through The Sex Discrimination Act making it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training and The Equal Opportunities Commission came into effect to oversee the Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act, there is still much more we need to achieve. Today is certainly a day to celebrate how far we’ve come but it is imperative that we continue the fight.
Equal Rights for Women | What needs to change for an equal workplace? - YouTube
Redundancy occurs when an employer needs to reduce the workforce. This can be for a number of reasons, e.g. where the employer needs to reduce numbers in a certain area of the business or an office is closing down with no possibility for staff members to be relocated.
Sometimes a redundancy situation may not be as clear cut, e.g. when there is a restructure within a department or a re-organisation of work between employees.
What is voluntary redundancy?
When an employer thinks that a redundancy situation might occur in the future, then sometimes it will offer voluntary redundancy packages. A voluntary redundancy package will normally be enhanced terms which are better than the statutory redundancy payments that employers are required by law to pay. When these packages are offered some employees might then decide to “volunteer” and take “voluntary redundancy”.
What is a collective redundancy?
A collective redundancy situation occurs when an employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within any period of 90 days or less. This type of situation gives rise to certain statutory obligations on the employer to inform and consult with the affected employees, and also to notify the Secretary of State.
What can I expect during the redundancy process?
There aren’t explicit rules on how an employer should conduct a redundancy procedure, but if an employer is following a fair process, you can normally expect:
A warning: This is where the employer tells you that your role is at risk of redundancy. They may have a meeting with you to explain this and then follow up by sending you a letter to confirm.
A consultation period: You and your employer will discuss the reasons for the redundancy and how this has come about. You may have further meetings with your employer at this stage, which will act as an important chance for you to ask questions about the redundancy and the process.
A fair basis for selection: Your role is scored and selected for redundancy from other positions according to criteria/factors that you have been able to see and comment on.
Consideration of alternative employment: Your employer should work with you to try to avoid the redundancy of your role and look for other roles you might be able to do within the company.
Opportunity to appeal: If you are dismissed by reason of redundancy then you might be offered a right to appeal against this decision. If you are not offered a right of appeal, then you should ask for one.
During the redundancy process you should also have the right to reasonable time off work to look for alternative employment.
If your employer tries to go through a redundancy process without meeting with you, and while you are on sick leave or maternity leave, then depending on the circumstances there might be a potential discrimination claim.
What are my rights when my employment has been terminated due to redundancy?
If you have less than two years of complete continuous service: You do not have the right to claim unfair dismissal, if your employment terminates in a redundancy situation.
If you have two or more years of complete continuous service: You have the right to not be unfairly dismissed. This means your employer has to follow a fair redundancy process in dismissing you and if they don’t, then you may have a potential claim for unfair dismissal.
Redundancy is potentially a fair reason for an employer to dismiss an employee. If there really is a genuine redundancy situation and your employer carries out a fair process you will not succeed in claiming unfair dismissal.
Sometimes we see cases where there is not a genuine redundancy situation and there are other reasons behind the redundancy which mean it is unfair. There are also some cases where the reason for the redundancy is discriminatory or automatically unfair.
Do I have to work my notice period if I am being made redundant?
It is likely that your contract of employment says you must either work for, or be paid in lieu of your notice period.
Sometimes when an employer is making redundancies they make a pay in lieu of notice (called PILON for short), this means they can terminate your employment sooner and pay you for this period, rather than you working your notice period.
If your employer suggests making a PILON to you, then you should think about whether or not you are happy with this arrangement.
Some employment contracts contain wording which means that employers have a contractual right to make a PILON payment and terminate an employee’s contract of employment at any time if they wish to do so.
Will I still get my bonus?
This will depend on what your contract and the bonus scheme rules say. Unfortunately, a lot of employment contracts say you have to be in employment at the time that bonuses are due to be paid, and that notice has not been served.
How much will my redundancy payment be?
You should be paid your salary and benefits as normal to the date of termination and you should either be paid or work for your notice period. You should also be able to take your holiday entitlement before your employment terminates or be paid for this on termination.
If you have less than two complete continuous years of service: you do not have any entitlement to a statutory redundancy payment.
If you have two or more complete continuous years of service: you are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. Your employer should calculate this, and tell you how much it will be. The amount you are entitled to will vary on the length of your service, your age at termination and your weekly pay.
If your employer has served you with notice then they should tell you what payments they will make to you on termination and explain to you how and when these will be paid. You should receive a payslip for all payments you receive from your employer, and you should be sent a P45 form on termination of employment, which should tell you what deductions have been made for tax and which you should follow up with your employer if you do not receive them.
Is my redundancy pay taxed?
Under current tax law, termination payments can be made tax free up to £30,000 and this includes statutory redundancy payments. Normally payments for notice pay are taxed and subject to deductions. Your employer should be able to tell you what the position is in relation to the taxation of the payments they will make to you. If you need detailed advice on taxation, then you should consult a specialist tax adviser.
Can I still use the employer as a reference after I have been made redundant?
Most employers will be willing to provide references for employees who have left employment. If a reference is given, then this should be true, accurate and fair and must not give a misleading impression. Normally most employers provide references which confirm only the name of the employee, their position and the dates of their employment. A lot of references do not state a reason for leaving employment.
What if I think the redundancy process has been unfair?
If you think you have been treated unfairly, it is important to seek legal advice as quickly as possible as you may have a potential claim for unfair dismissal and you may also have other claims. You can also try to internally appeal against your dismissal.
The time limits for potential employment tribunal claims are very short and you need to act on your potential claims within 3 months less one day of your complaints.
There are a number of myths and misconceptions around what it is and isn’t legal to do on a bike, from whether bikes are allowed on pavements to whether it’s against the law for cyclists to ride in any other formation than single file. In this blog, we bust some myths and answer the question - is it illegal to ride a bicycle on the pavement?.
Is there legislation for pavement cycling?
The simple answer to this is yes. Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 prohibits ‘wilfully riding’ on footpaths, which refers to the path at the side of a carriageway. The original law from 1835 doesn’t refer to bicycles or cyclists (as bicycles weren’t in such common use in England as they are today) and it doesn’t mention pavements - as this is a modern word. However, the interpretation is clear - it’s not legal for a cyclist to ride their bike on the pavement. The Highway Code also states: “You must not cycle on a pavement.”
The offence of riding a bike on the pavement is punishable by an on-the-spot fine, a fixed penalty notice of £30. This is charged under Schedule 3 and Section 51 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
Are many cyclists fined for cycling on the pavement?
Generally speaking, only a very small number of cyclists are issued with a penalty for riding on the pavement in the UK. Most police officers, if they spot a cyclist breaking the law, would informally warn the person that what they’re doing is illegal and advise them to dismount or leave the pavement immediately.
However, repeat offenders or those who put pedestrians or others in danger could be fined or face legal action. In fact, Greater Manchester Police conducted a two-week crackdown on inconsiderate cycling behaviour in 2015. This involved handing out over 40 fines to cyclists who were caught ignoring red traffic lights, having no lights on their bike and riding on pavements.
There are also other laws that a cyclist using the pavement could fall foul of, such as careless or furious cycling. If you’re on your bike and you ride onto the pavement and collide with a pedestrian, or otherwise harm anyone or damage property, you could be prosecuted for careless cycling. The offence of furious cycling, one that dates back to 1861, is similar but involves the reckless and potentially dangerous speed of a cyclist. Cycling too quickly and injuring someone could lead to a two-year prison sentence, while careless cycling could result in a £1,000 or £2,500 fine.
Can a pedestrian start a personal injury claim against a cyclist?
Even if the police don’t commonly penalise those who cycle on the pavement, there’s another deterrent that both cyclists and pedestrians should be aware of. If a cyclist uses the pavement and injures a pedestrian, or causes damage to their property, distress or undue alarm, it could result in a personal injury compensation claim.
The pedestrian can seek compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional or psychological distress and loss of earnings if they’re unable to work due to their injuries. If a cyclist is proven to have broken the law and cycled on the pavement, as well as cycling carelessly or recklessly, it’s likely that they’ll be judged to be at fault. This can mean that the pedestrian’s compensation claim is successful and the cyclist is left facing the cost.
For advice on cycling-related personal injury claims, contact Slater and Gordon Lawyers. Call our personal injury specialists on freephone [[CallbackNumber]] or use our online contact form to make an enquiry.
Our team have extensive experience in all kinds of road traffic accidents and personal injury claims, including those involving cyclists. We provide honest, realistic legal advice that you can rely on.
Why do people cycle on the pavement?
Many people view pavements as being for pedestrians only, which is why they get annoyed when they see cyclists using these public walkways. In many cases, cyclists use the pavement because they consider the road to be too dangerous. It may be that there’s an obstacle in the road that makes it temporarily hazardous for a cyclist to pass, or another feature of the road layout that makes a particular spot easier to travel through by diverting onto the pavement.
In other cases, cyclists simply choose to use pavements to save time, particularly where there is a very congested road and a reasonably wide pavement.
Another common reason for pavement cycling is where children are involved. Parents may not feel that it’s safe for children to cycle on busy or particularly hazardous roads - especially when there’s no cycle lane. Very young children may also be learning how to cycle, with training wheels on their very first bike. Of course, in the vast majority of cases, young children will not cause an obstruction or represent a danger to anyone when cycling on the pavement. Children under the age of 10 are also under the age of criminal responsibility, but it’s important to be aware that this age drops to eight years old for those cycling in Scotland.
Need legal advice on a cycling-related incident?
If you’ve been injured by someone riding on the pavement, the team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers could help you to pursue a personal injury claim. Our specialist solicitors can also help cyclists who face legal action as a result of cycling on the pavement, accusations of careless cycling or involvement in a road traffic accident.
For information and legal advice on a cycling-related issue, please don’t hesitate to contact Slater and Gordon Lawyers. You can call us on freephone [[CallbackNumber]] or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.
The great chicken crisis was caused by the failure of new delivery contractor DHL to get the chicken out through its distribution networks in time. This caused up to £1 million per day of damage to the company and its franchisees. KFC recently changed its delivery contract from Bidvest to DHL in an attempt to cut costs. The GMB Union has claimed that the crisis has arisen as a result of the attempt by DHL to run its delivery service out of a single distribution centre.
It has been reported that the employees who are generally on zero hours contracts will be compensated by KFC as a result. This may not have been the case if this was not so heavily publicised in the media. The question is where does this leave francisees who are left at a loss as a result of the decisions of KFC which they had no control over?
What was the impact on KFC Franchisees?
The crisis also demonstrates the dependence of franchisees on their parent company for support. Franchisee agreements are often standard form documents that are heavily weighted towards the parent company.
KFC franchise owners are asked to put up as much as £1 million cash up front to run a franchise and then hand over up to 10 per cent of their revenue to KFC. The franchisee is then completely reliant on their parent for essential services such as marketing, training and, of course, chicken delivery.
That arrangement can leave franchisees exposed if something further up the chain or beyond their control goes wrong. In this case, it’s difficult to put an exact figure on the financial cost suffered by the failure to deliver chicken over a week, but each franchisee impacted is likely to be nursing significant losses.
If 555 stores were closed on Monday 19 February 2018, this means the total losses might reach as high as £1million for that day. Some estimates put the cost as high as £2,000 per day, per franchise.
What can franchisees do to be compensated for the loss of earnings?
Many franchisees will now be wondering what, if any, action they can take against their parent company for this debacle. Crucially, the answer will lie in the franchisee agreement.
While franchisee agreements often favour the franchisor, there can be scope for franchisees to take action or seek redress in the event of a crisis. Franchise agreements will set out very carefully who is responsible for which part of the process of getting chicken from the farm to the customer, so check yours to see if you are entitled to compensation if there is a delivery failure by a KFC or a contractor.
It is also worth checking if KFC have ‘indemnified’ you for any losses that are caused by the failures of their contractors. Check any indemnity clauses to see if this is the case in your agreement. You may be able to claim compensation for breach of contract. If you are not sure and would like a lawyer to look at this confidentially please get in touch for an initial free consultation.
The jokes about these chickens having trouble crossing the road might make great twitter material, but for 900 franchisees out there, the KFC chicken crisis is not a joke.
If you are a KFC franchisee who has suffered as a result of the KFC chicken shortage and would like to confidentially investigate the possibility of seeking compensation you should call the team at Slater and Gordon lawyers who will work with you to see if we can fight for this on your behalf. For an initial free consultation call [[CallbackNumber]] or contact us online
The Senior Managers and Certification Regime which was introduced for about 900 banks and deposit takers on 7 March 2016 replaced the Approved Persons Regime for banks, building societies, credit unions and dual-regulated (FCA and PRA regulated) investment firms. There are three key parts to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime which are the Senior Managers Regime (SMR), the Certification Regime and the Conduct Rules.
The SMR applies to ‘relevant authorised persons’ and when it was implemented, aimed to raise the standards of governance in the banking sector, increase individual accountability and to help restore confidence in the sector.
Who is included in the SMR?
The SMR ensures that firms allocate the most senior management functions to individuals in a clearly defined manner - every Senior Manager needs to have a 'statement of Responsibilities' that clearly says what they are responsible and accountable for.
Senior Managers who hold one or more key functions within a firm (Senior Management Functions) must be approved by the appropriate Regulator before they can be formally appointed. The FCA Handbook and the PRA Rulebook set out 19 Senior Management Functions and usually firms are able to identify their Senior Managers based on this list. However, Senior Managers typically include:
Heads of key business areas such as Risk, Internal Audit and Finance
Executive team members
Money Laundering Reporting Officers
When are SMR references updated?
Under SYSC 22.2.1 the hiring firm must take reasonable steps to obtain regulatory references from past employers going back six years from the date of the reference request.
Under SYSC 22.2.4 a firm has a continuing duty to update a regulatory reference it sent previously to an individual’s employer where matters comes to light (such as misconduct) after the employee’s departure which would cause them to draft the reference differently. Again, it must do so for a period of six years from the date that the individual left the firm and this obligation is regardless of whether the past employer is authorised or not. This measure is designed to avoid the situation where an individual moves from job to job to prevent their conduct history from catching up with them.
In practical terms, this means that you may have started a new job with initially with a good reference from your previous firm, but if a misconduct subsequently comes to light within six years, your previous employer is under a duty to update your reference and inform your current employer, which could have serious implications (see below).
Can I see my references?
If you leave a job after an investigation or disciplinary procedure has commenced or concluded, you may want to ask the former employer what they would say in a reference if they were asked for one in the future. There is no obligation on the employer to agree to do this. You could also ask for the detail the employer has provided to the FCA on your deregistration by them. Again the employer has no obligation to agree to this, but you can make a Data Subject Request to FCA for this information.
How will I know if I’ve received a negative reference/what situation might indicate you’ve been given a bad reference and what impact would that have on your career?
Under, SYSC 22.5.4 a firm supplying a reference owes a duty to its former employee and the recipient firm to exercise due skill and care in the preparation of the reference and references should be true, accurate, fair and based on documented fact. However, given the obligations on your previous employer to provide accurate information regarding whether you are ‘fit and proper’ this means that you could receive a more negative reference than you bargained for.
The consequences of being given a bad reference can be far-reaching and could result in you losing a job-offer or losing your existing job and you may struggle to get work in any authorised firm.
What do I do if I get a negative reference?
Fraudulent references could potentially give rise to an actionable claim of deceit, negligent misstatement, malicious falsehood or defamation, depending on the circumstances. You may have suffered loss and damage arising from the reference, such as not being employed for a period of time and therefore you can claim for the losses incurred as a result of the fraudulent reference. Additionally, under s 138D of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) an individual may bring a claim for damages where loss is suffered due to breach of the rules.
How can I protect myself against getting a negative reference when leaving a job?
If you are going through a disciplinary investigation and you are offered an amicable exit via a Settlement Agreement, the scope for an agreeing a reference is now reduced for all authorised firms. Under the SMR, a firm must not limit its ability to disclose information which is relevant to the reference (SYSC 22.5.13). This means there is no longer the comfort of knowing that previous misconduct will not be disclosed to a new employer. In order to mitigate the risk of a claim from the employee, some firms will offer employees or former employees the right to reply to qualifications that they propose to include in original and updated regulatory references.
It may be possible to agree some wording relating to disclosures that the firm is required to make. Whilst there is no need to disclose pending or unfinished disciplinary investigations (SYSC 22.5.1), employers may err on the side of caution and disclose this, but you could agree on wording which makes it clear that no findings (positive or negative) were made.
You should be aware however, that employers will usually ensure that they reserve a right to deviate from the agreed wording in order to comply with their obligation to provide the accurate disclosures required under the rules.
If I’ve had an adverse disciplinary finding, how will this affect my references?
Your employer will be required to provide information about the disciplinary finding in the reference as this goes towards the assessment of whether you are ‘fit and proper’. Whilst, there is a six year time limit for misconduct, you should be aware that for serious misconduct, the six year time limit is removed (SYSC 22.5.10) and older misconduct can be disclosed. In determining whether it is ‘serious’, the FCA handbook states that the key question is how important the information still is for the requesting firm’s assessment of the employee’s fitness for the function that they are going to perform. This is therefore quite wide-ranging.
John Marshall is an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
However, new technology could be helping to reduce accident rates. According to research conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and JATO Dynamics, the increasing use of driver assistance systems is helping to make the roads safer.
Accidents down by 10% in five years
The study suggested that nearly seven in 10 new cars in the UK (66.8%) are available with at least one self-activating safety feature, such as autonomous emergency braking systems, blind spot sensors and parking assistance. These systems help to mitigate driver mistakes, thus reducing the risk of a wide range of accidents.
Nearly 1.8 million vehicles a year are now available with warning systems designed to prevent collisions, while over half of new cars (53.1%) are available with autonomous emergency brakes.
Alongside these advances in vehicle safety systems, the rate of road accidents has been falling. Figures cited by the SMMT show that road accidents in the UK have dropped by nearly 10% since 2012. The organisation suggested this decline is set to continue as car manufacturers strive to create increasingly sophisticated systems to enhance safety.
A report by SMMT and KPMG released in 2015 claimed that automated safety systems and self-driving vehicle technology could lead to a reduction in the number of serious accidents of 25,000 and a reduction in fatalities of 2,500 a year by 2030.
Safety the ‘number one priority’ for car manufacturers
Commenting on this trend, chief executive of the SMMT Mike Hawes said: “Safety is the number one priority for vehicle manufacturers and the pace of technological change is faster than ever before, with driver assistance technologies now available on the majority of vehicles.”
He went on to say that while completely autonomous cars may still be some way off, millions of drivers are already benefiting from technology that’s helping to make the roads a safer place to be.
Basic safety tips
Although improvements in vehicle technology might be reducing the level of danger, it’s essential that you don’t fall into the trap of becoming complacent about safety when you’re on the roads. For example, it pays to bear the following pointers in mind:
Never use a handheld mobile behind the wheel. This is illegal and could result in you receiving six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine. You may also be taken to court, where you could get a driving ban and be fined £1,000. Even though using hands-free phones is permitted, don’t use these devices in situations where they may distract you and pose a danger.
Stick to sensible speeds. Did you know that a pedestrian is twice as likely to be killed if they’re hit by a vehicle travelling at 35mph than one travelling at 30mph?
Don’t drive tired. Fatigue really does cause accidents on the roads. In fact, research commissioned by the Department for Transport found that around one in six crashes resulting in injury and death on A roads and motorways are related to fatigue. If you start to feel tired when you’re behind the wheel, take a break. You should also plan to stop every couple of hours for at least 15 minutes if you’re on a long journey.
To give yourself time to react when you’re driving, make sure you leave a minimum of a two second gap between your car and the vehicle in front.
Pay extra attention when you’re driving near schools, buses and ice cream vans. Children often behave impulsively around roads and they may appear without warning.
Make sure you wear your seatbelt at all times when in a car even if you’re in the rear of the vehicle. In a collision, a rear passenger who isn’t wearing a seatbelt can seriously injury the front seat passenger or driver.
Ensure you’re always aware of what’s happening around you when you’re driving, and use your mirrors regularly.
Making a personal injury claim
Even if you’re careful, there’s always a risk that you’ll suffer an accident on the roads. If you’ve experienced an injury and you believe someone else was partly or fully to blame, you may be able to make a road traffic accident claim. You can seek compensation if you suffered an injury while driving, as a passenger or a pedestrian, or if you were riding a bike, motorbike or horse at the time of accident.
The personal injury solicitors at Slater and Gordon can advise if you have a case for compensation. Simply call us on on freephone [[CallbackNumber]] or contact us online to find out more. The majority of our road traffic accident claims (98%) are funded on a No Win, No Fee basis, meaning you don’t have to risk your finances to pursue justice.
People can be exposed to asbestos dust in the workplace or in other environments. They breathe in this dust and eventually (often decades later) develop an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural plaques or lung cancer.
However, it’s also possible to contract a serious and potentially life-threatening illness such as this in a less direct way. This is known as second hand asbestos poisoning.
High Court case sheds light on second hand asbestos poisoning
A recent case in the High Court highlighted this risk. The case involved a married couple, Jack and Paula Briggs from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire.
Jack Briggs was a factory worker with BBA Aviation Plc, where it’s believed he was exposed to asbestos as part of his work. Mr Briggs died of brain haemorrhage in 2011, but his wife fell ill with the asbestos related illness mesothelioma a few years later. She died of the cancer in March 2014.
A claim was lodged in the High Court in London in 2016 by the couple’s daughter Lisa Wharton on behalf of her late mother’s estate. The claim alleged that the employer in this case not only exposed Jack Briggs to toxic substances such as asbestos, but also exposed Paula Briggs to second hand asbestos poisoning.
Factory worker ‘unwittingly poisoned his wife’
According to a Telegraph report on the case, Mr Briggs would return home from the Cleckheaton factory in his work clothes and footwear. He would attempt to shake the dust from his clothes, but would then go to embrace his wife while still wearing the dust-covered clothing. This clothing, which it’s suspected was contaminated with asbestos, would then be placed in the laundry basket. Mrs Briggs typically did the laundry, and would have been further exposed to the dust when placing garments in the washing machine and cleaning up any dust from the floor.
This is all believed to have taken place as part of a normal routine for a number of years in the 1970s and 1980s, and lawyers for the Briggs family believe that second hand asbestos poisoning was responsible for Mrs Briggs’ death four decades later.
Diseases such as mesothelioma typically take a long time to develop, which means that many sufferers don’t experience symptoms until decades after their exposure to asbestos has taken place.
While raising this claim, the lawyer acting on behalf of the couple’s daughter alleged that the employer didn’t do enough to protect both the employee and his family from asbestos poisoning. He therefore argued that the employer’s negligence was responsible for Mrs Briggs’ death.
We have acted on behalf of family members who have developed an asbestos-related disease as a result of second hand asbestos poisoning for many years, although this is still a cause of asbestos-related disease that many people are unaware of.
Raising awareness of second hand asbestos exposure
Cases such as this one go a long way in raising awareness of the fact that second hand asbestos poisoning does exist, and how easily someone can unwittingly expose another person to asbestos. This is why the Health and Safety Executive has such stringent rules for dealing with asbestos, as well as serious punishments for those who breach the regulations.
Other causes of second hand asbestos poisoning
As well as coming into direct contact with someone who’s been exposed to asbestos, there are other ways that illnesses can be caused by second hand poisoning. These include:
Exposure in towns and areas where mining activities are in operation, where asbestos fibres are released into the air or enter the local water supply
Renovations or repairs in buildings, where asbestos-containing materials are disturbed
What to do if you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos
Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to asbestos, either directly or second hand, should seek immediate medical advice. If a previous partner, close friend or family member was ever diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it’s possible that you could also have been exposed. However, these cases are not hugely common, so it’s important to remain calm.
You may not notice any symptoms, but those who do may experience chest pain, a persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, appetite loss, weight loss and/or deformities of the nails or fingers. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms, with whatever cause, should always seek medical advice as a matter of urgency.
Compensation claims for second hand asbestos poisoning
You can also make a compensation claim for asbestos exposure, whether direct or second hand. Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the largest personal injury firms in the UK, with a reputation for expertise and success in asbestos exposure cases. Due to their decades of experience with this type of personal injury case, our highly trained solicitors have specialist knowledge and expertise in second hand asbestos poisoning cases.
If you need our help to pursue compensation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone [[CallbackNumber]] or use our online contact form.
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