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West Brom sued for small-print rate hike

A campaign against a rate hike by the West Brom Building Society has been given permission to go ahead with a class-action suit. The group of landlords is fighting the lender's 2 percent point hike on buy-to-let tracker mortgages, an increase which affected 6,700 mortgages, through litigation.

The hike was announced in the autumn of 2013, although there was no change announced for the base rate at the Bank of England. Tracker mortgages are supposed to follow base rates and the change impacted landlords of multiple buy-to-let properties who raised their mortgages through a now-closed specialist lending department of the building society.

Doctor claims whistle-blowing led to her dismissal

A doctor who made complaints about the way that a number of services were run by the Worcestershire Health & Care NHS Trust has claimed that she suffered detriment after making her concerns public. The woman, who was a leading figure in Redditch and Bromsgrove family planning, contraception and sexual health services as part of the Clinical Commissioning Group, began her claim for unfair dismissal almost 12 months ago.

The case has been delayed due to panel members' unavailability and the workload of the trust's legal representative. The tribunal judge offered this information after the doctor asked for an explanation for the lack of progression of her claims, citing concerns that 'memories could be fading". The trust had originally and unsuccessfully applied to have the doctor's claim stricken because the relationship and trust between the employer and employee had broken down.

Tribunal: daughter of murder victim unfairly dismissed

A woman who was fired for making remarks on a social media site after the murder of her father has won an employment tribunal. The woman, a U.K.-based marketing representative for the Jamaican Tourist Board, made three separate comments on the social media forum after learning that her father had been murdered during a robbery in his holiday home in the Caribbean.

The court heard that woman was sacked for gross misconduct after making the posts. Her first post pledged to get justice for her father, the second criticised the police force in Jamaica for being too slow to investigate the murder, and the third stated that she intended, despite having her life threatened, to fly to the vacation home in Portland to seek justice. The panel ruled that the woman's remarks on both the social media site and to a local newspaper regarding the case did not constitute grounds for dismissal and awarded her a large sum in compensation.

Pet-nups recommended by animal charity

An animal charity has revealed that four pets every week are left at their re-homing shelters when couples split up. The organisation has entered a partnership with a law firm specialising in divorce after they saw more than 1,000 abandoned pets as a direct result of a relationship breakdown. A recent report revealed that one in four divorced couples had argued over their pet during proceedings, with 66 per-cent acknowledging that a pet-nup would have been beneficial.

In an effort to lessen stress and heartache for owners and pets, the charity has created a template legal document that allows couples to avoid litigation by documenting what will happen to their pet in the event of a divorce or breakup. The document is available for free download on the Blue Cross website and lays out the rights of ownership, as well as ongoing care, of a household pet should a couple separate. There is also an additional document, called a Deed of Agreement, which more simply sets out who would take ownership of a pet under such circumstances.

The legal implications of false allegations

Being falsely accused of anything can be very upsetting to an individual, but false accusations can have more than an emotional impact; there can also be very public implications as a result of their occurrence. The most common type of false accusation is defamation, and it is important that an individual is aware of the legal ramifications of being accused of something that they haven't done.

A slight on a person's reputation, defamation can be divided into two forms: libel, which is written, or slander, which is spoken. It is important to understand that any compensation award will be primarily concerned with the damage to the victim's reputation and any associated financial impositions rather than simply seeking recompense for hurt feelings. Nevertheless, the first thing an individual who feels that they have been defamed should do is to go on record, making a firm denial of any allegation.

Taking action against unfair or constructive dismissal

Legally, employees are protected against unfair dismissal. This can also include circumstances where an employer has failed to follow a formal and appropriate disciplinary process, failure to follow a formal process that leads to dismissal, or a set of circumstances that have been deliberately manipulated to lead to an ultimately unfair dismissal.

Dismissal would be considered unfair in situations that include, but are not limited to, a request for flexible working hours, retaliation for a refusal to abandon working rights (such as rest breaks), retaliation for trade union membership or activities, retaliation for taking part in industrial action of less than 12 weeks, dismissal for undertaking jury service, retaliation for whistleblowing, any attempt to enforce the right to Working Tax Credits, as a result of either applying for or utilising legally entitled paternity, maternity or adoption leave as well as being in a situation where an employee is forced to retire, unless an employer can "objectively justify" such action.

Tribunal rules in favor of employee

A security guard forced into resigning after activists staged a protest at his place of employment was awarded over £34,000 in compensation by a tribunal. The panel found that the man had been coerced into resigning by a senior manager who reportedly sought a scapegoat for the event.

The employment tribunal was told that a group of eight protesters had entered the reception area of HM Treasury on 16 April 2013 in order to film a song and dance routine that satirised the tax avoidance scandals involving HMRC. They performed a song, filmed the routine and posted it to the internet. The panel heard that officials of the Treasury became angry whilst HMRC was unhappy and that the security company was threatened with the cancellation of their contract.

Former manager denies accusations of leaking confidential info

A former employee of a firm that provides bus transport to accommodate train service failures has denied revealing confidential information during contract negotiations. The Droitwich resident has raised a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal currently underway in Birmingham.

The man was employed to manage contracts and performance by a brokerage company that helps to replace transportation services when railway services are compromised. His employers fired him after accusing him of passing on sensitive information to a representative of one of the bus companies bidding for a contract with a rail franchise that services London Midland. They told the panel that the contract in question was the company's "bread and butter" and had risen in value from £1 million to £3 million between 2012 and the extension date of 2015.

Sales consultant wins tribunal case for commission in holiday pay

A recent decision by the European Court of Justice is set to have a wide-ranging impact on the UK's employment market. The case concerned the holiday pay entitlement of a sales consultant whose basic salary was 40 percent of his total income. The court ruled that, when calculating the holiday pay of an employee who was contractually entitled to commission, this payment should also be included. As employees can back-claim underpayments for years, firms are now being advised to take advice regarding their liability in the wake of this decision.

The man worked for an energy company and stated that, by not earning commission during the holiday period, his income was reduced by 60 percent in the months after he returned to work. He claimed that this was a breach of Working Time Regulations as employees are permitted 5.6 weeks' paid vacation every year in the UK and 4 weeks' paid vacation under EU employment law.

Taking steps to end on-line defamation

With the rapid expansion of social media over the past few years, protection of an on-line reputation has become a very real concern for many. Due to the openly accessible and potentially anonymous nature of these new mediums, it has become necessary for both businesses and individuals to be aware of the impact of on-line misrepresentation and have a plan in place to deal with disparaging remarks if they occur.

If you discover a defamatory or libellous reference on-line, the first step to removing it is to identify the person who is responsible for the remarks. With social-media users able to create hide behind a pseudonym, it may be necessary to seek a Norwich Pharmacal Order, which might reveal a person's identity. You might then be able to seek an injunction to stop. After these steps are taken, you have many options that to seek compensation.

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