Articles

Here you will find all the latest news from the SCE team. In this section we will feature news about what we have been up to, recent mentions in the press, information about the work we do in the community and lots more.

Monthly Archive September 2013

Local Law Firm Continues Charitable Legacy

University of Leeds student, Rana Begum has spent the summer working for the hot new boutique employment law firm SCE Solicitors in central Leeds, following her winning the prestigious Pamela Walsh Peaker Memorial Scholarship. 

Coming from a Keighley family of 9 children, Rana had always wanted to exceed her schools’ expectations of her, which were unjustifiably low for a girl of her precocious intelligence. Rana however has aspired to be a lawyer since the age of 14.  When it came to applying for University, her teachers would only encourage applications to smaller local institutions and even tried to discourage her from applying to the University of Leeds.

Ms Begum was undeterred by the pessimism of her school, knowing that her drive to help herself and others within her tight-knit community was too strong to ignore, and so she applied for and was accepted to study for her law degree at Leeds University.  

Grafting towards being a lawyer these days however requires more than good grades and hard work, the task is an academic gladiatorial battle royal where only the strong survive and an ‘edge’ is required to succeed. Rana decided that her edge would be in the form of real life practical experience during her studies; fortunately for her the Pamela Walsh Peaker Memorial Scholarship offered just that. Rana fought for and successfully won the scholarship, beating out many other talented contenders in the process.  

Leeds University awards up to five Pamela Walsh Peaker Scholarships in each academic year.  When applying for the placement Rana read about Pamela Walsh and thought she had an inspirational life story and was encouraged as she too had come from a disadvantaged background and had wanted to use her studiousness to give something back. 

During her work placement Rana was exposed to a wide range of employment law work, countless diverse clients and learnt about the skills required to be a successful solicitor, or as one staffer at SCE terms it “how the sausage is made”.  Rana was impressed by the amount of responsibility she was given and the informative tasks she undertook, which made a serious contribution to the day-to-day work of the firm. 

The Pamela Walsh Peaker Scholarship supports students undertaking work experience in the area of private practice, where there is an opportunity to directly observe the practice of justice.  Rana said “I soon realised that access to justice has been gravely denied for many, due to the new employment tribunal fees; yet I observed SCE Solicitors genuinely trying to help their clients reduce their legal costs as much as possible so they could have access to the justice system”.

SCE Solicitors were approached by Leeds University as Samira Cakali, owner of SCE Solicitors, is a fellow alumni.  At first Samira was unsure about the idea due to the length of the placement, though she now says “eights weeks is not long enough! We have all got used to having Rana around and will miss her greatly when she returns to her studies”. “It has also enabled me to give back to the community and help those from disadvantaged backgrounds, aiding Social Mobility”.

Samira is quick to point out that SCE is not the run of the mill law firm. “I think because we are a young firm overall that there is a dynamacy that gets across to students, we believe that employment law is hands down the best practice area in the legal sphere and that enthusiasm is really infectious”.

Mrs Cakali and her colleagues are passionate about employment law, that much is plainly obvious on a first meeting; their aim is to give clients an outstanding service at affordable rates while delivering top notch advice.  SCE’s slogan is “Managing HR, Employer and Employee Relationships the right way” – with much emphasis added upon “the right way”. 

While legal placements are nothing new, SCE are adamant that the level of hands-on involvement they have afforded Rana will make her a shoe-in for any future job applications and greatly set her apart from her peers.

The most insightful experience Rana had was at a client meeting with a man who desperately needed justice.  “He’d been taken advantage of at many different stages of his case by previous advisers, that is until he instructed SCE Solicitors” said Rana. Due to her personal background and knowledge of the local community, she was able to assist in drafting his witness statement. Rana immensely enjoyed this task because it allowed her to get deeply involved in the case.

Rana said about her time at the firm “It has certainly given me a positive impression of both the quality of the work SCE Solicitors do and the kind of people they are, it also confirmed my ambition to pursue a career in law. It was rewarding to be part of a team who are really immersed in what they do and are dedicated in getting the best results for their clients. I will be very sad to leave because there was truly never a dull moment!” 

Sickness absence policies and making reasonable adjustments

The duty to make reasonable adjustments in respect of the disabilities of employees can be a legal minefield for employers. The duty can arise where an employer’s provision, criterion or practice puts a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to those who are not disabled.

Disabled employees are more likely than others to have significant sickness absence. Therefore, the strict application of a sickness policy is likely to place disabled employees at a substantial disadvantage and therefore give rise to the duty to make adjustments.

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Delay by the Employment Tribunal service: fair hearing an impossibility?

For those of us that deal with the Employment Tribunal (ET) on a regular basis it can be very much described as a love/hate relationship. Being a case worker at the ET and dealing with a constant procession of disgruntled claimants, respondents, not to mention their frantic lawyers, is no easy task. This is particularly true of late in light of the recent administrative backlog that has resulted from the stampede of claims at the end of July following the introduction of ET fees, upon which we have previously reported.

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Local Leeds lawyers going back to school

This week our very own Samira Cakali, Principal of SCE Solicitors, has been out in the community helping youngsters to understand the educational and vocational route to their dream jobs. This all took place via the annual Education Week organised by the Ahead Partnership in association with Leeds Law Society.

The scheme helps primary school children in disadvantaged areas around Leeds to explore their potential and understand the jobs available to them when they grow up.

Samira worked with a group of 10 and 11 year olds who can only be described as being truly inspiring. Samira said that “I had someone that wanted to become a pathologist, scientist, Lego designer, games tester and a chocolate factory owner all under one roof!”.

“It was a truly unforgettable experience which has left me with a lasting impression. I will never forget the budding young entrepreneur whose love of chocolate gave rise to his dream being the owner of a chocolate factory.”

Samira and SCE Solicitors would like to thank Leeds Law Society and the Ahead Partnership for organising the scheme, we will certainly be participating again next year!

Ambiguity and the meaning of dismissal

The difference between a dismissal and a ‘mutually agreed termination’ is a point often tested in UK employment law. The fallout for an employer for mistakenly thinking a dismissal is a termination agreed between them and the employee, can be quite disastrous.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) recently gave a good example on distinguishing the two situations in the case of Francis v Pertemps Recruitment.

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What’s hot in HR and Employment Law!

Team SCE were out and about this week doing what we do best, which is of course provide discussion and advice relating to the dynamic world of employment law and HR.

Owing to our renowned expertise on the subject we were invited by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development to deliver a seminar at Leeds Metropolitan University to a range of HR Managers, HR Consultancies and freelancers on the trending topics in the employment sphere.

‘Trending’ is quite the appropriate word as a good deal of the seminar focused upon the hot button issue of social media and how to manage this in the workplace. This included explaining how to ensure your policies on social media are as robust and clear as possible, as well as some entertaining examples of recent cases that have raised questions about what is and is not appropriate when an employee mentions their place of work on Facebook.

As well as dealing with established areas such as retirement policies, the seminar also dealt with the recent tribunal reforms in addition to the emerging issues of the e-cigarette and infra-red alcohol testing devices and how best to implement a legally sound policy. 

The seminar was greatly received and we must say that we had a wonderful day out at the Leeds Met campus!

SCE Solicitors are available to deliver similar or bespoke seminars up and down the UK on the full spectrum of employment law and HR issues, so if you would like us to pay you a visit and deliver one, please do contact us at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk!  

Loss of Death in Service Benefit: Can the Estate Claim?

Sometimes quite tragically people depart this mortal coil unexpectedly. Naturally when this does occur there can be unresolved issues regarding their employment benefits, most pertinent may be the payment of a death in service benefit to their estate.

In the recent case of British Airways Plc (BA) v Fox the Court of Appeal dealt with the specific question of whether the estate of an employee who was dismissed and died shortly thereafter could bring a claim for the loss of a death in service benefit which he had enjoyed while in employment.

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