Unison Loses High Court Tribunal Fee Challenge

Unison Loses High Court Tribunal Fee Challenge

The Ministry of Justice has released a study into the number of employment tribunal cases that are getting put before employment tribunals in the Midlands region of Britain. This report shows that the overall number of cases in the area has dropped 56% since fee alterations changes to the fee system were put in place in July 2013.

A total of 68,567 claims were recorded across the Midlands between July 2012 and June 2013, a number that dropped by more than half to 29,984 during the same period in 2013/14.

It is widely believed that the new tribunal fee system is causing workers to shy away from seeking recompense for the mistreatment they suffer in the workplace. Legal representatives across the UK are united in a belief that the current employment tribunal fee system, which was introduced by the Justice Secretary, is allowing employers to get away with mistreating employees as they know less employees will now seek legal action.  A single claim can cost as much as £1,200 to bring before tribunal.

The fee increase of 2013 was implemented in order to scale back on the number of false claims being made, which industry personnel felt were making it to tribunal because employees knew they would not have to pay the fees a tribunal incurs.

But while this change undoubtedly deterred some UK workers from making false claims, it has had the dual effect of causing genuine cases to be lost as employees fear they will have to pay the cost, which requires at least £160 for a basic claim and a further £230 for the tribunal hearing.

Reaction to the system

The new fee system has been widely unpopular since its inception and was quickly challenged by UK worker’s union charity Unison, which recently took its complaint to the high court following their initial challenge of employment tribunal fees at the London Court of Appeal.

During the High Court case, Lord Justice Underhill rejected Unison’s claim but did agree that he had “a strong suspicion” that the decline of tribunal cases has caused legitimate claims to not be acted upon.

A Scottish ban?

The Scottish parliament has been particularly critical of the current fee system and is considering outlawing it from Scottish law as part of the Smith Commission agreement. This is a legal plan that challenges many aspects of UK employment law; some of which will be enforced once Scottish employment law tribunal power is transferred from Westminster to the Scottish parliament next year.

There is widespread concern over the plan which many feel could lead to tribunal complaints from around the British isles being able to move freely to a Scottish tribunal as long as the company concerned has a business located elsewhere in the UK in addition to Scotland.

Employment law expert Stuart Neilson of Pinsent Masons summed up this scenario as  being like “forum shopping”; explaining that “if any employer has a place of business in Scotland, claims from UK employees can potentially be brought there irrespective of where the subject of the grievance took place or the employee actually worked.”

Current UK jurisdictional law allows for a claim to be made on condition that the employer “resides or carries on business in Scotland”, or as long one of the acts or omissions involved in the complaint took place inside Scotland.

Such terms are contained in the Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations, and could essentially let an employee raise a claim against an employer with headquarters based in Scotland, even though the incident involved happened elsewhere in Britain.

This post was submitted on behalf of Nationwide Employment Lawyers

Inksters help Scottish Ensemble return to Shetland

Members of Scottish Ensemble, the UK’s only professional string orchestra, will begin their 2015/16 Shetland season with a programme of duos for violin and viola, performed by husband-and-wife team Jonathon Morton and Clio Gould, at Mareel, Lerwick on 29 September. Morton is the current Artistic Director for Scottish Ensemble, while Gould is the current leader of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

This is the second time Scottish Ensemble have visited Shetland thanks to the generous support of Inksters Solicitors. In 2013, Inksters enabled the group to come to the islands and perform a genre-defying repertoire of music including Seavaigers – a double concerto for Scottish fiddle and harp composed by Sally Beamish for fiddler Chris Stout, harpist Catriona McKay and Scottish Ensemble. The partnership was so successful that Inksters and Scottish Ensemble were awarded the Arts and Business Scotland Placemaking Award in 2014.

Brian Inkster, founder of Inksters, said: “We are delighted that the success of our partnership in 2013 has now turned into a longer term relationship for the benefit of the Shetland community. On the back of having won the Arts and Business Scotland Placemaking award, it is very fitting to see us cementing this and ensuring a place on Shetland for Scottish Ensemble for years to come.”

Their programme includes selections from a range of composers including 12th century French composer Leonin, Belgian composer Orlande de Lassus, Hungarian composer Bartók and baroque giant Bach, as well as more substantial offerings such as Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Viola and Martinů’s Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola.

Members of the local classical community have expressed their excitement about the upcoming season. Ffancytunes flautist Brian Gregson said: “It’s always a treat to hear first class musicians playing live and Scottish Ensemble includes some of the very best string players in the country. As well as playing standard repertoire, sometimes in new arrangements, they have an uncanny knack of unearthing less familiar pieces. It’s as if they are saying “here’s something interesting we found and we love playing it – hope you like it too”.”

This initial concert will be followed by a performance of string quintets on Friday 26 February 2016, and a concert of violin and cello duos, including Halvorsen’s Passacaglia for Violin and Viola onThursday 21st April.



I am a fan of Brian Inkster and his law firm Inksters.  He is a good lawyer with wide interests and his firm does good work outside the law.

Inksters Solicitors

Forward Thinking Law


Smoke yourself fit with Charon – Smokedo – The way of The Smoker

Rive gauche: Smokedo – Smoke yourself fit with Charon

As I clearly have far too much time on my hands this morning – no clients responding to emails yet, being a Monday – I thought I would share with you a method I employed some years ago to get fit –“Smokedo” – The Way of The Smoker.  I smoked while I exercised. It worked.  I put on a lot of solid muscle and did get fit.  I also managed to cut down on my smoking.  It isn’t easy to do these exercises while smoking.  It requires concentration and perseverance.

The Press Up is relatively straightforward.  As one develops skill and expertise, more complex Smokedo exercises may be practised.  Practice does make perfect.

You will note that the model has developed skill to such a level of expertise that he is able to smoke, cling onto a pole and read a newspaper. This exercise is perfect for firm thighs.

While you are probably getting he idea about this exercise programme now – I thought it helpful to include a couple more illustrations to ensure that you do the exercises properly.  We don’t want to trouble our local doctor or Ambulance Service needlessly..or at all?

Advanced practitioners of Smokedo may wish to attempt this complex routine pictured to the right.  If you do need to obtain extra supplies of cigarettes, your local newsagent ought to be able to assist – and there is always Amazon for quick delivery.  I’m not sure if it is possible to buy smoking materials on Ebay.

This final illustration shows how a popular exercise on a rowing machine may be done with elegance and elan.

Good luck.  I look forward to welcoming you to the Fellowship of Smokedo – or, in extremis, to visiting you at your local hospital.  I will bring you some grapes.

As they say in some circles…have a good day….. although Dirty Harry used to say “Go on…make my day” did he not?

Clare Rodway writes on her excellent “The Conversation” blog: John Gould on his new book The Law of Legal Services

Clare Rodway writes on her The Conversation blog:
John Gould

I was proud to be a personal guest of John Gould at the launch of his new book “The Law of Legal Services at the Royal Festival Hall. John is widely acknowledged as one of the country’s leading regulatory lawyers, having acted in many cases establishing important legal precedents. He is described in the legal directories variously as “an important figure” on the regulatory scene, “very impressive”, “intelligent and innovative” and having an “unsurpassed knowledge of regulatory powers”. In person however, despite his formidable reputation he is an utter delight: eloquent, charming, approachable and funny, all in equal measure.
John has a particularly valuable perspective on legal services regulation, being both an advisor on the issue (his clients include solicitors and firms, more than 40 sets of barristers and all the main legal regulators) and manager of a legal business himself; John is Senior Partner of Russell-Cooke and has led the management team over the last 20 years in which time the firm has grown exponentially, in reputation as well as in real terms. Russell-Cooke is well known as “the solicitor’s solicitors” (ie the advisors to whom the rest of the profession turns when needing advice) and John’s regulatory practice has been key to this.
So given his special insights into law firm business and regulation, I was keen to know his view of the challenges facing both regulator and regulated in the post Legal Services Act world. Does he think that the bodies governing in this very changed environment have a handle on just how differently legal business is being, and can be, done? And what does he make of the differences in approach across the numerous regulators attempting to safeguard good practice across the breadth of the profession?

Inksters doesn’t just do Law – they sponsor Junior Chess Championships – Bravo

Fifteen of Shetland’s finest junior chess players converged on the Shetland Museum recently to contest the 2015 Inksters Shetland Junior Chess Championship. After five hard-fought rounds Lindsay Garrick of Aith emerged victorious with a clean score of five straight wins, closely pursued by Duncan Burgess of Sandwick and Maks Inkster of Scalloway on four points. Maks, who is ten years old, also carried off the prize for the highest-ranked primary school player.

Well over half of the contestants were under 12, which bodes very well for the future of chess in Shetland. The standard of chess was high, as was the enthusiasm of the players and the courtesy of their parents and guardians, leading to what the Chief Arbiter, Ken Beer, called “the most enjoyable chess tournament I have ever controlled”.

Ken Beer also said “Shetland chess owes a considerable debt of gratitude to Brian Inkster of Inksters Solicitors whose sponsorship and hard work made this tournament happen.  Long may his involvement continue!”

This is the fifth consecutive year that Inksters have sponsored the competition. Brian Inkster is himself a former Shetland and Scottish Junior Chess Champion and Inksters have always carried out a significant amount of legal work in Shetland from their offices in Glasgow and visiting base in Lerwick.”


I used to play a lot of Chess – with mixed success, admittedly – but a wonderful game. So well done to Brian Inkster and his firm!

We can be truly horrified by our legal system with this judge – Lord Goddard

I have always been surprised by this rather unpleasant judge… Lord Goddard.  I quote the The Independent which usually gets it right! 

“THE JURY didn’t want Derek Bentley to hang. They had listened to the cocky, almost boastful evidence of 16-year-old Christopher Craig in the witness-box, casually admitting to owning 40 guns and frankly accepting that he had been the instigator of the criminal enterprise that had resulted in his killing PC Sidney Miles. They had contrasted that with the 19-year-old Bentley’s pathetic, child-like performance, showing in nearly every answer his lack of comprehension, his low IQ, his mental dullness. The jury knew that Craig could not hang because of his age; and for Bentley, they recommended that he be shown mercy. Unfortunately, Bentley had the bad luck to be tried and sentenced by one of the last of the hanging judges, Rayner Goddard, the Lord Chief Justice.

We don’t have hanging judges today. There are, to be sure, judges who support the death penalty and would be prepared to impose it. But the concept of the hanging judge implied more than mere support for capital punishment. It meant an unwavering belief in “an eye for an eye”, a refusal to accept that the act of killing could have any mitigating circumstances, an enthusiasm for putting on the black cap before announcing an imminent execution, and an element of sadistic pleasure in ordering a fellow human being’s death.

Lord Goddard fitted all the criteria. A brilliant lawyer, he was also a domineering bully with viciously punitive views on all aspects of criminal justice policy. His idea of fun, after a legal dinner, was to take part in a “boat race”, in which two groups of lawyers and judges would arrange themselves on the dining-hall floor in the formation of a rowing eight, and shuffle on their bottoms towards a finishing line. More sinister and perverted was his habit, according to his clerk, of ejaculating when passing a death sentence, so that a fresh pair of trousers had to be brought to court on those occasions….”

Sexual arousal takes many forms – but this one has to be one of the more unusual achievements of human endeavour? 

Prime Minister savaged! Plus ca change? – AND something to sheikh you to the core?



One can always rely on The Daily Mail for digging out the dirt?  Dreadful newspaper… but there we are… 

I do try not to link to The Daily Mail = so no link from me on this one !

And just to sheikk things up…

So what REALLY happened to Dubai’s Sheikh Rashid? How billionaire prince was hit by claims of cocaine, sex parties – and a ‘roid rage’ killing before he died at 33

Rush for gender equality with top judges ‘could have appalling consequences for justice’

Rush for gender equality with top judges ‘could have appalling consequences for justice’

“One of the country’s most senior judges today warned that rushing to achieve equal representation for women at the top of the legal profession could inflict “appalling consequences” on the quality of British justice.

Lord Sumption, a Supreme Court judge, said he believed that the judiciary was a “terrific public asset” which could be “destroyed very easily” if the selection of candidates was skewed in favour of women.

He added that to avoid inflicting damage, campaigners for equality would have to be “patient” and suggested that it would need up to 50 years before the number of women on the Bench matched the total of men.

In further contentious remarks, Lord Sumption said it was “rubbish” to say that the law was run by an “old boys’ network” and insisted instead that the lack of female judges was mainly the result of a “lifestyle choice” by women unwilling to tolerate long hours and poor working conditions….”

Read the rest of the article 

Minimalism – the way I plan to live the rest of my life

I had a long ‘think’ earlier today and have decided to sell everything I own save for my suitcase, clothes, two pairs of blue suede shoes, a battered old iMac, two cameras. I don’t need a car or a motorbike these days – but I do need the kit I am keeping.  If it can’t fit it into my suitcase on wheels – it has to go.  I shall rent in Perthshire for winters and The Isle of Arran or Largs on the West Coast of Scotland for summers.

I will, of course, continue to blog on law and do podcasts.  Liberating. Have case…can travel.  Cars are easy to hire, should I need one – but I am a fan of buses these days – the bus driver does the driving!

Regular readers of my blog know that I don’t often put much ‘Law’ in it – but I will continue to draw your attention to good blog posts by my many law blogging friends.

I am 62 – reasonably fit, save for the need to use a walking stick after cracking my spine (motorbike accident followed up some time later  by slipping on a bath mat and falling backwards into a bath) some years ago, but I can manage a good 4-5 miles of walking each day without much pain.

Off to take some more photographs… and I will be getting my paints and canvases soon – so may even paint sensibly.


I have a new cheap phone – but I rarely use it. and only one person, my brother, knows the new number! Adios for now…. been fun.

Guest Post: The Cloud. Cloud Computing. Cloud Hosted. It’s annoying, isn’t it?

The Cloud.  Cloud Computing.  Cloud Hosted.   It’s annoying, isn’t it? 
Matt Torrens, sproutit.co.uk

Actually, it’s annoying in two ways.  Firstly, to be bombarded with such terms on such a frequent basis, is utterly frustrating.  Furthermore, from a service provider’s point of view, it’s frustrating to see the bastardisation of the definition and concept of Cloud Computing – half of us have no idea what it is and half the service providers out there are busy trying to force the definition to match whatever service offering it is they are trying to peddle.

So we’ve established it’s annoying – but, presumably, it’s important too, if only because a Google search for Cloud Computing, currently returns 132 million results.

How did it all start?

These days, pretty much every house has internet connected technology.  Right across the age spectrum from kids watching on-demand TV to my old Mum tapping away on her phablet (although she calls it a ‘thingy’).  Use cases are varied too, with the InternetOfThings meaning that connectivity is not limited to a device with a human on the end of it.  House alarms and smart electricity meters are good examples.  But it wasn’t always like this.  Cast your mind back to the 80’s and you may recall mealtimes where you weren’t subjected to the view of the top of someone’s bowed head, as they attend to their ever-beeping smartphone.  Business was largely conducted by typed (yes, on a typewriter) letter and phone call.  If you wanted to see someone for a meeting, you had to sit in the same room and not just view them on a screen.  There was some computing, but it took place in darkened rooms, on machines the size of a house and was operated by shuffling, bearded mean, sporting thick rimmed spectacles.

The 90’s soon arrived, along with John Major

, and the PC became a standard fixture in living rooms across the country.  All software was installed locally on the PCs (more bearded, bespectacled techies) and the most heard tune of the decade began emitting from dial-up modems.  Users cared not how the internet was strung together or what protocols were in place; they just used it.  The internet was ‘out there’ somewhere – so a cloud symbol, made perfect sense.

The dotcom bubble grew and then burst; a cloudburst of sorts.  As we recovered, the term ‘cloud’ didn’t gain much more traction until half way through the first decade of the new century.  2006 saw Amazon’s launch of its Elastic Compute Cloud, Microsoft Azure was born in 2008 and IBM’s SmartCloud arrived in 2011.  So, you see, Cloud is arguably both old and new – and it’s certainly evolving very, very fast.  The InternetOfThings, on which our lives are already hugely dependent (think SmartCities, traffic flow, pollution monitoring) couldn’t function without the Cloud.  So popular was the term Cloud by 2008, that Dell’s attempt to patent the term ‘cloud computing’ failed.  Nice try guys.  Apple neatly, and predictably, got round the problem with the use of iCloud and, just when we were all getting our head around Cloud (Private, Public, Hybrid) some smartass introduced the ‘as-a-service’ concept.


Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Smartass-as-a-service (SaaS); and so on.  More recently, Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) has made a big play and (here comes the techy in me) is rather good!  Connect to your PC from the office, home, iPad, phablet (yes, Mum, the ‘thingy’), train, plane or even holiday (ok, the last one isn’t the greatest step forwards, perhaps).  Amusingly, DaaS rather neatly completes the full circle journey back to dumb terminal and mainframe computing from the day of the original bearded/bespectacled shufflers.  Does that mean the end of the cloud is nigh?  Afraid not.  In fact all the as-a-service offerings live in the cloud, too – we’re wedded to this technology for the rest of our lifetimes at least.  The name may change, I suppose, but at least you know a bit about its history, now.

So, whilst you’re not about to stop hearing about ‘Cloud’, here some items I would like to get rid of:

  • ‘locked in’.  Stop locking me in, just send me a calendar request.
  • ‘you’re on my radar’.  Get me off it, please – that’s stalking.
  • ‘reaching out to you’.  Stop it, just stop it.
  • ‘can I get a…..’.  No, never.

Ahh, that feels much better; more relaxed.  Peace-of-mind-as-a-service.


Guest Post: Planning for your future

Coles Solicitors

“Plan for your future today leaving you care free to enjoy your retirement tomorrow”

  1. WILLS

The most important consideration is to make a Will. A Will is the only way of ensuring your property and affairs benefit those whom you would wish to do so. People who do not make a Will are leaving unnecessary work, complications and costs to their family.

If you don’t make a Will the “Intestacy Rules” will decide which family members will receive your money and possessions after you die. Your estate does not automatically pass to a surviving husband, wife or civil partner as most people presume. Unmarried partners will receive absolutely nothing often causing financial hardship and distress. Surely it would be better to make sure that the people you wanted to benefit following your death was controlled by you?

If you already have a Will it is also important to consider reviewing it. Changes in family, financial circumstances or the law may no longer reflect your current wishes or include unnecessary complications. Significant changes to Inheritance Tax for married couples in 2007 may make Wills prior to this date no longer appropriate.

“Home made” Wills and those prepared by Will Writers with often limited or no legal training are frequently either fully or partially invalid. As these errors only arise following a death when you cannot rectify matter, surely it is better to have the peace of mind your Will is fully valid and tailored personally to your wishes by specialist solicitors.


Have you considered what would happen if you were unable to manage your financial affairs or make decisions over your healthcare treatments due to accidents, old age or illness?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint the person or people you would like to take those key decisions for you. Without it, a family member or friend would have to make an expensive and time consuming Court application and suffer annual administrative requirements.

It is important to note that an LPA  does not take away your independent or control whilst you have capacity and you can limit the decisions you may wish your Attorney(s) to take on your behalf.

An LPA can only be drawn up whilst you have mental capacity and whilst it might sound daunting, the key is to deal with it sooner rather than later whilst your health is not an issue. Why delay? Call your nearest office to arrange a free, no obligation consultation today.


As a population we are living longer and an increasing number of us face the real possibility of going into residential care in the future. Most people are concerned about funding long term residential care with an average cost of £700 per week.

Currently, if your assets exceed £23,250 (including the value of your property) then you will be self-funding and have to pay for your care yourself with the exception of certain medical conditions. Life savings are being decimated and family homes intended to pass as Inheritance are sold for those without planning in place.

As the need for residential care approaches, people may be tempted to transfer their homes into the names of children or to give away large sums of money. If you do so and the Local Authority claim you have purposely done so to avoid the asset being used to pay for care you can still be treated as owning that asset. There is also a greater risk that children may get divorced, have financial difficulties or predecease you causing someone outside the family to get their share leading to you finding finance to buy them out of a property or even losing your own home.

Steps can be taken to preserve your assets from funding long term care but these have to be taken whilst you are in good health. It is vital to take expert legal advice to fully understand your options as early as possible to increase the chance of protecting your hard-earned wealth.

For a free initial consultation to discuss your Will requirements with a specialist solicitor from our team, including members of the Society of trust and Estate Practitioners and the Law Society’s Private Client Section contact your nearest Coles Solicitors office today. Our solicitors have vast experience in helping people protect their property locally, regionally and nationally so you know you and your family are in safe hands.