The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

September 2009 Archives

DJ Fired After Telling Radio Station 'I'm Gay!'

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A DJ who came out of the closet and was fired by a Christian radio station plans to take his case to an employment tribunal to show that employees should not be dismissed on the grounds of their sexuality.

Ian Carrington worked at Refresh FM in Manchester as a volunteer producer and radio presenter.  He says the station fired him after he told them he was gay.

Home Mortgage Support

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New court rules come into effect today, which will force mortgage lenders to tell councils whether they are planning to initiate repossession actions against local residents.

Housing Minister John Healey has written to all council leaders saying that when councils hear from lenders taking repossession action against local people this should prompt them to offer practical advice or support for residents struggling to keep their homes.

This could include directing them to free debt and legal advice, helping them apply for benefits such as or, for the most vulnerable households, assessing them for the Mortgage Rescue Scheme.

Equal Pay Settlements For Underpaid: £1.6 Billion Raised

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Thousands of underpaid workers stand to get £501m in backdated equal pay settlements, Communities Secretary John Denham announced yesterday.

Thirty-seven councils were given the go ahead to borrow against or sell assets up to £501m so they can meet and manage the one-off costs of settling their equal pay promises faster.

Since 2006, central government has given English councils permission to raise over £1.6bn for equal pay settlements under a process known as equal pay capitalisation.

Immigration 101: Sports Visitors (#6)

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No. 6 - Sports Visitors

You only need permission to come to the UK for a sports visit of up to six months if you are a visa national.

For more information on visas and to , visit the UK Border Agency .

If you a non-visa national, permission to come as a sports visitor for up to six months is not needed.

Workplace Exploitation Of Migrants

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The Government has announced new funding to tackle workplace exploitation of migrants.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. NDSAround £3 million over two years will be allocated to projects that enforce basic workplace rights like health and safety and the national minimum wage.

Civil Servant Invented 1,400 Children In £1.2m Tax Credit Fraud

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Civil servant John Brian Agdomar, 42, from Hackney, East London, and an accomplice, Olanekan Omatayo Ogunmekan, 35, from Bethnal Green, London, have been jailed for four and a half years for conspiracy to commit tax credit fraud and acquiring criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. 

The pair fabricated more than 1,400 fictitious children, hijacked hundreds of identities and illegally claimed more than £1.2m in tax credits, before being rumbled by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigators last year.

The pair had developed a scheme which saw Agdomar using his job as a civil servant at the Department for Work and Pensions as a cover to illegally access genuine customer records to obtain personal information.  This allowed the pair to hijack existing claims for tax credits, diverting the payments into a complex network of bank accounts.

Workplace Sexual Orientation Discrimination Law

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Workplace sexual orientation discrimination law protects you if:

  • you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual;

  • people think you are gay, lesbian or heterosexual (when, in fact, you are not); or

  • you have gay friends or visit gay clubs.

The law prohibits discrimination in all areas of employment, including: recruitment; employment terms and conditions; pay and benefits; work status; training; promotion and transfer opportunities; redundancy; & dismissal.

Immigration Scam: Chinese Conman Behind Bars

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A Chinese conman behind a fake document scam to defraud immigrants was sentenced to four-and-half years in prison yesterday.

Xiang Li, 29, of Stratford, London, who denied the charges, ran two bogus law firms, issued fake passports and work permits, and even staged a phoney citizenship ceremony where unsuspecting immigrants were greeted by actors playing the parts of officials and local dignitaries against a backdrop of a picture of the Queen and the Union flag.

Default Retirement Age Lawful... For Now

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Currently, under the , employers can require all staff to retire at 65 - the default retirement age ('DRA') - regardless of their circumstances and even if they don't want to retire, so long as they follow the .

1.4 million people choose to work beyond 65, however, and many more would like to carry on working, but are prevented from doing so by their employers.

Heyday challenge

In 2006, the National Council on Aging began a legal challenge against the DRA, arguing it contravenes European law.  This case became known as the Heyday challenge.  Last week, this challenge came to an end in the High Court, which ruled the DRA of 65 is lawful.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

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The Government has announced plans to introduce new Domestic Violence Protection Orders, also known as 'Go' orders

These would ban perpetrators of domestic violence from their homes for up to a fortnight, while giving victims breathing space to consider their options and seek support to escape abuse.

Cash For Bangers Scheme Extended

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The Government has announced £100m in additional funding for the  (a.k.a. 'cash for bangers scheme' or 'vehicle discount scheme').  The initial budget for the scheme was £300m, which was intended to cover up to 300,000 vehicles.  The increased budget of £400m will cover 400,000 vehicles.

Alongside the increased funding, the scheme has been extended to van owners with vehicles registered on or before 28 February 2002, and car owners with vehicles registered on or before 29 February 2000.  Initially, the scheme only covered vehicles registered on or before 31 August 1999.

Divorce 101: Overview Of Financial Issues - Scotland (#26)

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No. 26 - Overview Of Financial Issues - Scotland

In addition to paying the and sorting out , you'll need to reach an agreement on the division of matrimonial property, including your home, pensions, and savings, and the payment, if appropriate, of spousal maintenance.

Matrimonial property

Matrimonial property generally includes all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, as well as property acquired for use as a matrimonial home - or furnishings for that home - before the marriage.

It does not include other property acquired before the marriage or property acquired after a couple separate, or property gifted or inherited from a third party during marriage.

Housing Market In England And Wales Remains Fairly Flat

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The housing market in England and Wales remains 'fairly flat' according to new data from the Land Registry. 

There was a monthly house price change of -0.1% in August. 

The annual fall of 9.4% - up from a low of 16.3% in February - takes the average house price in England and Wales to £155,968.

Meanwhile, London and the West Midlands experienced the greatest monthly price rise with a movement of 0.8%.  The average property price in the capital is now £310,640.

Divorce 101: Overview Of Financial Issues - England & Wales (#25)

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No. 25 - Overview Of Financial Issues - England & Wales

In addition to paying the and sorting out , you'll need to come to an , including property, pensions, and savings, and the payment, if appropriate, of .

Where an agreement is not possible, one party can apply to the court for a financial order, which is known as .  But, this cannot be done until the court receives the divorce petition.

Once the application for is received, the court will schedule an appointment with a judge to consider the case.  This is known as the .

Dolmio Express Creamy Carbonara Pasta Sauce Recall

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The following notice has been issued by the manufacturer:

PRODUCT RECALL NOTICE

Dolmio Express Creamy Carbonara Pasta Sauce - 330G Pouch
Best Before Dates: 11.06.2010 and 12.06.2010.

Immigration 101: Business Visitors - Permissible Activities (#5)

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No.5 - Business Visitors: Permissible Activities

Permissible activities for business visitors include:

  • attending meetings, including interviews that have been arranged before coming to the UK, or conferences;

  • arranging deals or negotiating or signing trade agreements or contracts;

  • undertaking fact finding missions; 

  • conducting site visits;

  • delivering goods and passengers from abroad (e.g., lorry drivers and coach drivers, provided they are genuinely working an international route);

  • speaking at a conference where this is not run as a commercial concern and the conference is a 'one-off';

  • representing computer software companies by coming to install, debug or enhance their products.  Representatives of such companies may also be admitted as business visitors in order to be briefed as to the requirements of a UK customer, but if they are to provide a service involving the use of their expertise to make a detailed assessment of a potential customer's requirements this should be regarded as consultancy work for which entry under the  would be required;

  • representing foreign manufacturers by coming to service or repair their company's products within their initial period of guarantee;

  • representing foreign machine manufacturers by coming to erect and install machinery too heavy to be delivered in one piece, as part of the contract of purchase and supply; &

  • interpreting or translating for visiting business persons, provided the interpreter/translator is employed by the overseas company and is coming solely to provide this service for the visiting company member.

Immigration 101: Business Visitors (#4)

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No.4 - Business Visitors 

Eligibility

To enter the UK as a business visitor, you must be able to show that you:

  • only want to visit the UK for up to six months;

  • plan to leave the UK at the end of your visit;

  • have enough money to support and accommodate yourself without working, help from public funds or you will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends;

  • do not intend to charge members of the public for services provided or goods received;

  • do not intend to study;

  • can meet the cost of the return or onward journey;

  • are based abroad and have no intention of transferring your base to the UK even temporarily; &

  • receive your salary from abroad.

Redundancy Rights: Ex-Denby Pottery Workers Break The Mould

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An employment tribunal in Nottingham has awarded forty-six former Denby Pottery workers thousands of pounds in compensation after the company .

The workers' union, , secured a protective award on their behalf, which is pursued when an employer breaches the in good time prior to commencing a collective redundancy exercise.

Assisted Suicide Guidelines

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In compliance with , the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keir Starmer QC, released on Wednesday identifying the factors he will take into account when deciding whether or not to prosecute assisted suicide.

The public interest factors against prosecution identified in the interim policy include that:

  • The victim had a clear, settled and informed wish to commit suicide;

  • The victim indicated unequivocally to the suspect that he or she wished to commit suicide;

  • The victim asked personally on his or her own initiative for the assistance of the suspect;

  • The victim had a terminal illness or a severe and incurable physical disability or a severe degenerative physical condition from which there was no possibility of recovery;

  • The suspect was wholly motivated by compassion;

  • The suspect was the spouse, partner or a close relative or a close personal friend of the victim, within the context of a long-term and supportive relationship;

  • The actions of the suspect, although sufficient to come within the definition of the offence, were of only minor assistance or influence, or the assistance which the suspect provided was as a consequence of their usual lawful employment.

Constructive Dismissal In The News

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Constructive dismissal has received a lot of press attention lately.  The has seen claims soar and of course there was also ...

"Hold on," I hear you say, "Keegan wasn't sacked, he resigned." Well, you're right.  But resignation is a prerequisite for constructive dismissal.

In a nutshell, you may have a claim for  if you're forced to resign because of your employer's unlawful behaviour.

To prove constructive dismissal, you must be able to demonstrate that your former employer committed a serious breach of contract, you did not accept the breach, and you felt forced to resign because of that breach.

Examples of serious breaches of contract in this context include the following:

UK Immigration Law: ID Cards For Foreign Nationals

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Skilled migrants renewing their visas to stay in the UK will be issued with foreign national ID cards from the New Year, the Home Office has announced.

From January 2010, (PBS) will be issued ID cards. 

This brings the roll out forward from April 2010 and will add around 30,000 foreign nationals a year to those currently being issued with identity cards.

Since their introduction, 90,000 cards have been issued - mainly to and those renewing .

The is also planning to trial technology at 17 Post Offices to provide foreign nationals applying for identity cards with alternative and more accessible venues where they can enrol their fingerprints.

Violent Ad Man Claims Unfair Dismissal Against Love

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Last week, Alistair Sim, 35, presented his claim for against design agency before an employment tribunal in Manchester.

Sim  from the agency after Stockport Magistrates Court convicted him for assault occasioning actual bodily harm for attacking his girlfriend. 

He subsequently withdrew his resignation, but the firm he co-founded began disciplinary proceedings and sacked him.

Sim argues he only resigned as "the face" of Love Creative; he believed he was still part of the firm and was waiting for "assurances" he would be given another role.

David Palmer, a creative director at Love, disputes this.  He told the tribunal Sim resigned "unequivocally."  He also denied Sim had merely wanted to take a back seat to "let things blow over."

Tenancy Deposit Protection - England & Wales - Part 4

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As noted in part 1, Landlords don't have to use a tenancy deposit protection scheme for deposits paid before 6 April 2007, unless the tenant renewed their tenancy after this date.

Your landlord cannot just hang on to your deposit, however, just because it's not in a tenancy deposit scheme. 

As stated in part 3, while it is reasonable for your landlord to deduct money from the deposit to cover damage to the property or contents, missing items which were listed in the inventory, and unpaid rent, they should not take money off the deposit to pay for reasonable wear and tear (i.e., damage which has taken place over a long time through normal use).

Your landlord should return your deposit if they have checked your property and agreed that no damage had been caused.

If your landlord claims that you are responsible for damage, you should make sure that they prepared an initial inventory.

Tenancy Deposit Protection - England & Wales - Part 3

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Moving out

It is reasonable for your landlord to take money off the deposit to cover damage to the property or contents, missing items which were listed in the inventory, and unpaid rent. 

But they should not take money off the deposit to pay for reasonable wear and tear - in other words, damage which has taken place over a long time through normal use.

Any part of the deposit that is not disputed should be repaid as soon as possible and no longer than 10 days after agreement between tenant and landlord.

If the deposit is disputed, what happens next depends on the type of tenant deposit protection scheme your landlord is using:

Tenancy Deposit Protection - England & Wales - Part 2

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Moving in

Before you sign a tenancy agreement, you and your landlord should agree, in writing, what condition the place is in.  You should also make a detailed list of the contents (furniture and fittings) and record their condition (photographs are a good idea).  This should help prevent disagreements at the end of the tenancy.

In addition to an inventory, you should carefully check the circumstances in which your landlord could have a claim on your deposit.

Information regarding deposit protection

Within 14 days of paying your deposit, your landlord is required to give you details about how your deposit is protected, including:

Tenancy Deposit Protection - England & Wales - Part 1

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Tenancy deposit protection schemes

Since 6 April 2007, all deposits (for rent up to £25,000 per annum) taken by landlords and letting agents for Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales, must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme.

Landlords don't have to use a tenancy deposit protection scheme for deposits paid before 6 April 2007, however, unless the tenant renewed their tenancy after this date.

House Purchase Loan Approvals 81% Up On Last Year

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More good news for the UK economy on Wednesday, as the British Bankers' Association (BBA) released .  The table below shows gross mortgage lending has grown by 4.6% over the last year.  Consumer credit also continued to contract while personal deposits increased.

Seasonally adjusted data Mortgage lending Consumer credit Personal deposits
August net change + £2.8 bn

-

+ £3.3 bn
(Previous month) + £1.9 bn
- £0.2 bn + £2.8 bn
Previous six month average + £2.7 bn - £0.1 bn
+ £1.5 bn
Annual growth + 4.6 % - 0.6 %
+3.7 %
 

Government Reviews Rape Complaints

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The Government has announced a review into how rape complaints are handled from when a rape is first disclosed until the court reaches a verdict.

The review, led by Baroness Stern, will look in particular at how public authorities (including the police, local authorities, health providers, the Crown Prosecution Service, etc) not only respond individually to rape complaints, but how they interact with each other, as well as professionals' attitudes to rape and evidence from the victims.

The Stern Review will make recommendations on, among other things, how to encourage more victims to report rape; ensure that more cases progress further through the criminal justice system; fairly increase conviction rates; and build satisfaction and confidence in how rape complaints are handled.

Employee Work Rights: Help For Vulnerable Workers

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Vulnerable workers are now able to seek advice about their employee work rights and report abuses of those rights through a new helpline launched this week.

The new Pay & Work Rights Helpline is part of a wider Government campaign to raise awareness of employee work rights.  The helpline will provide a unified point of contact for both employers and workers.

London: 'Libel Capital Of The World'

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A year ago, the Independent ran a story -  - about U.S. celebrities being encouraged by British media lawyers to take advantage of the U.K.'s tougher libel laws.

apparently flock to the Sceptred Isle every year to take advantage of our friendly courts and quaint old ways, making London the undisputed '.'

The trend started in 2000, when Russian oligarch-turned-ÈmigrÈ sued U.S. business magazine .  The case went all the way to the House of Lords, which ruled that - since the magazine was widely available on the internet and Berezovsky had sufficient business interests in Britain to have been damaged - the court had jurisdiction.

Since then, numerous foreign celebrities have sued overseas media companies for libel in U.K. courts - including Polish film director , actress , and singer .

Criticism of English libel law

Last year, the New York State legislature passed the Libel Terrorism Prevention Act to .

And the has denounced English defamation law for "."

Trafigura Agrees Settlement Over Toxic Waste Dumping

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, the London-based  in poverty-stricken , says it has agreed a £28 million settlement with lawyers representing 31,000 people affected by the incident. 

Each victim will receive approximately £950 in compensation.

The settlement dwarfs the  there.

states that "15 people died[ and] 69 people were hospitalized" after a ship chartered by Trafigura - the Panamanian-registered vessel Probo Koala -

Within hours of the dumping, "thousands of individuals visited health-care centres complaining of nausea, headaches, vomiting, abdominal pains, skin reactions and a range of eye, ear, nose, throat, pulmonary and gastric problems;" "more than 108,000 medical consultations result[ed] from the incident."  Moreover, the areas where the toxic waste was dumped still have not been decontaminated and continue to threaten residents' health.

Tax Payment Interest Rates Set To Rise

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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has increased the interest rates charged on late payments and paid on overpayments of tax.  The changes essentially harmonise interest rates across all taxes.

The rate changes include:

Health Warnings On Tobacco Products; Fashion Mags Next Up...

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Health warnings on tobacco products became mandatory in the UK in 1971.  Tobacco companies had to print "WARNING by H.M. Government, SMOKING CAN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH" on the side of products.

This conditional warning - that 'smoking can damage your health' - remained in place for 20 years.  In 1991, the law finally changed and companies started printing "TOBACCO SERIOUSLY DAMAGES HEALTH" on the front and back of all tobacco products.

DPP Interim Guidelines On Assisted Suicide

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In July, in its final case, the

This week, the DPP, Keir Starmer, QC, will release interim guidelines on the issue. 

In an yesterday, Mr. Starmer discussed the case of Daniel James - paralysed from the chest down as a result of a rugby injury - who persuaded his parents, Mark and Julie James, to take him to Switzerland .

Insolvency: CIB Winds Up Rogue Recruiters in Leamington Spa

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Seven recruitment companies - First Call Publications Limited, Mode Enterprises Limited, Community Care Jobs Online Limited, BMJ UK Limited, Nursing Today Limited, Nursing Tomorrow Limited, and Reload Recruitment Limited - all based in Leamington Spa, have been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Government's Companies Investigation Branch (CIB).

The companies, apparently controlled by the same two directors, engaged in 'cold calling' and duped organisations into paying money for job advertisements.  As a result of this activity, the companies were paid over £600,000 between August 2006 and March 2009.

Workplace Disability Discrimination Law

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Under the Disability Discrimination Act ('DDA'), it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against disabled people for a reason related to their disability.  The law applies to all areas of employment, including: recruitment; employment terms and conditions; pay; work-related benefits (e.g., access to recreation or refreshment facilities); work status; training; promotion and transfer opportunities; ; and .

Reasonable adjustments in the workplace

Employers have a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' to make sure disabled people are not put at a substantial disadvantage by employment arrangements or any physical feature of the workplace.

Employment Law: Additional Paternity Leave & Pay On Its Way

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The Government hopes to grant parents additional choice and flexibility as to how they use maternity and paternity leave before next year's general election.

Currently, employed fathers are entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave and mothers to 52 weeks maternity leave, of which up to 39 weeks are paid.  Under the new law, mothers would be able to transfer the final six months of their maternity leave to the father once the mother has returned to work.

Religious Discrimination Against Jedis? Tesco Strikes Back...

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Daniel Jones, 23, founder of the , has accused supermarket giant Tesco of religious discrimination after the company ordered him to remove his Jedi hood or leave its store in Bangor, north Wales.

In the first reported case of , Mr. Jones claims he has been "victimised over his beliefs" and left "emotionally humiliated" by the incident.

"It states in Jedi doctrine that you have a choice of wearing headwear in your home or at work, but you must wear a cover for your head when you're in public," he said.

Mr. Jones - who also goes by the Jedi name Morda Hehol - went to the store to buy a sandwich during his lunch break when staff approached him and ordered him to the checkout where they explained he would have to remove his hood.

"They said: "Take it off", and I said "No, its part of my religion.  It's part of my religious right."  I even gave them a Jedi church business card."

But, they refused to listen:

"They were rude and not very nice.  Three people surrounded me.  It was intimidating.

"It was discrimination.  They made jokes about me.  I was really upset.  Nobody should be treated like that.

"We have 500,000 members in our church."

Unfair Dismissal: Prison Guard Branded 'Too Sexy' Wins Case

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A prison officer who claimed her co-workers hounded her out of her job by repeatedly criticising her for being "too sexy" and "glammed up," has won her case against Her Majesty's Prison Service for , , and .

In July, , told an how colleagues at Brinsford Young Offenders' Institution complained that she wore too much make-up and that her clothing was too provocative.

A former colleague, Michael Doolan, told the tribunal her appearance was "overbearing" and brought  "unwarranted attention" from inmates.  Mr. Doolan said Ms. Kajla wore a significant amount of make-up including "heavy eyeliner, dark mascara, rouge on her cheeks and embossed lipstick."

Ms. Kajila claimed she was often mocked and reprimanded in front of inmates and other staff, which made her feel harassed and humiliated.  She told the tribunal: "I couldn't sleep at night because of the bullying and harassment.  I lost weight and decided I couldn't take it any longer and resigned."

Workplace Age Discrimination Law

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Workplace age discrimination law prohibits discrimination against someone on the grounds of age.  All employees and workers are protected, including partners of firms, contract workers and people in vocational training, no matter how old they are.

The law applies to all areas of employment, including: recruitment; employment terms and conditions; pay and benefits; work status; training; promotion and transfer opportunities; ; and .

Default retirement age

UK law does, however, permit companies to implement a .

Redundancy: Government Plans Six-Month Pay Cuts To Avoid Lay Offs

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The Mirror claimed yesterday that .  The paper claims the Government is considering various proposals, including one plan where workers would receive £128 per week - double the amount of unemployment benefit - which would be funded 50-50 by employers and the Government.

The aim of the plan would be to allow companies to cut costs until the economy and demand improves and then rehire people on full pay.  And if workers were actually laid off after six-months, they would still be entitled to full .

The Mirror claims the proposals have the support of both businesses and the trade unions.  However, the paper erroneously quotes Gordon Brown as telling the 141st TUC Congress this week that he was '"reviewing the issue of redundancy" in a bid to shorten growing dole queues.' 

Mr. Brown said no such thing during his .  He mentioned redundancy only once during his address, commenting that "every redundancy is a personal tragedy."

Immigration 101: Child Visitors (#3)

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No.3 - Child Visitors

Child visitors to the UK must be able to show that:

  • they meet the , other than those that refer to age and study;

  • they are under 18 years;

  • they have suitable arrangements in place for their travel, reception and care and can provide full details of these arrangements;

  • they have a parent or guardian in their home country who is responsible for their care and can provide their address and landline telephone number; and

  • if they are accepted on a course of study, they are studying at an establishment which is:
    1. the holder of a sponsor licence for ;

    2. accredited by a UK Border Agency approved accreditation body, or

    3. an independent fee paying school registered with the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Workplace Racial Discrimination Law

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Workplace racial discrimination law prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

    • colour;

    • nationality; &

    • ethnic or national origins.

The law applies to all areas of employment, including: recruitment; employment terms and conditions; pay and benefits; work status; training; promotion and transfer opportunities; ; and .

Racial discrimination falls into four categories: (1) direct discrimination; (2) indirect discrimination; (3) harassment; and (4) victimisation.

(1) Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination means intentional discrimination (e.g., saying a job is closed to all persons of a specific racial group).

'Genuine occupational requirements' & 'genuine occupational qualifications'

Employers may discriminate, however, in recruitingpromoting or transferring, dismissing, and training employees where membership of a particular race or ethnic or national origin is a 'genuine occupational requirement' ('GOR'), provided the GOR is proportionate

For example, an Asian women's refuge could lawfully stipulate that it was looking for an Asian woman to fill the post of staff manager.

The GOR may not be used to discriminate on grounds of colour or nationality.

Divorce 101: Child Maintenance - Northern Ireland (#24)

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No. 24 - Child Support - Northern Ireland

Child maintenance means financial support that helps pay for a child's everyday living costs.  The parent who does not have the main day-to-day care of the child pays the parent who does have the main day-to-day care.

What is the law on child maintenance?

The law stipulates a parent who does not live with their child still has to share financial responsibility for them.

When a petitioner starts divorce proceedings, he or she must fill in Form M4 (statement of arrangements for the children), setting out his or her proposals for child maintenance (and addressing other issues related to the child's care - see and ).

Divorce 101: Child Maintenance - Scotland (#23)

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No. 23 - Child Maintenance - Scotland

Child maintenance means financial support that helps pay for a child's everyday living costs.  The parent who does not have the main day-to-day care of the child pays the parent who does have the main day-to-day care.

What is the law on child maintenance?

The law stipulates a parent who does not live with their child still has to share financial responsibility for them.  The

If parties can reach agreement

If parents agree about arrangements for children outside of court, the divorce process is a lot easier for all concerned.  Many parents use and/or to help facilitate an agreement.

After an agreement is reached, it must be presented to the court alongside two 'affidavits.'  The affidavits must set out the proposed arrangements and satisfy the court that the children's interests have been safeguarded. 

The parents can make the arrangements legally binding by asking their solicitors to prepare and register a contract called a 'Minute of Agreement.'  A sheriff officer can then collect and enforce payments if the parent who agreed to pay child maintenance does not pay it.

Divorce 101: Child Maintenance - England & Wales (#22)

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No. 22 - Child Maintenance - England & Wales

Child maintenance means financial support that helps pay for a child's everyday living costs.  The parent who does not have the main day-to-day care of the child pays the parent who does have the main day-to-day care.

What is the law on child maintenance?

The law stipulates a parent who does not live with their child still has to share financial responsibility for them.  The .

Kevin Keegan vs. Newcastle United Hearing Begins

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An arbitration hearing to settle the has begun.  Keegan reportedly wants £8 million in compensation for being  from his post as Newcastle manager due to a lack of autonomy over transfers.

The reports a panel consisting of two lawyers and one senior sports administrator will hear evidence from Dennis Wise, Newcastle's former director of football, and also listen to a counter-claim from Mike Ashley, the club's owner, that Keegan is culpable for breach of contract.

Divorce 101: Child Custody - Northern Ireland (#21)

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No. 21 - Child Custody - Northern Ireland

Child custody law concerns all children born to you and your spouse, plus any stepchildren and adopted children, who are:

  • under 16; or
  • between 16 and 18 and still at college or school full time.

Statement of arrangements for children (Form M4)

When a petitioner starts divorce proceedings, he or she must fill in Form M4 (statement of arrangements for the children) and set out his or her proposals for child custody.

Divorce 101: Child Custody - Scotland (#20)

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No. 22 - Child Custody - Scotland

In Scots law, five basic principles must be observed in making decisions about a child:

  1. The paramount concern is the best interests of the child.

  2. Both parents have equal responsibilities and rights in respect of their children.

  3. A court order should not be made unless it would be better in all the circumstances of a case to make one.

  4. A child's views and wishes must be taken into account.  (The extent to which these wishes will guide the decision will vary according to their age and maturity.)

  5. Unless the contrary can be proved, it is in children's best interests that they maintain significant relationships with both parents, whether they are living together or apart.

Reaching an agreement

If parents agree about arrangements for children outside of court, the divorce process is a lot easier for all concerned.  Many parents use and/or to help facilitate an agreement.

After an agreement is reached, it must be presented to the court alongside two 'affidavits.'  The affidavits must set out the proposed arrangements and satisfy the court that the children's interests have been safeguarded.

Divorce 101: Child Custody - England & Wales (#19)

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No. 19 - Child Custody - England & Wales

Child custody law concerns all children born to you and your spouse, plus stepchildren and adopted children, who are:

  • under 16; or

  • between 16 and 18 and still at college or school full time.

Statement of arrangements for children (Form D8A)

When a petitioner starts divorce proceedings, he or she must fill in  and set out his or her proposals for child custody.  Form D8A tells the court:

  • where the children live;

  • who they live with;

  • whether the other parent will see them and how often;

  • about their day-to-day care;

  • about their health;

  • where they will go to school;

  • what financial support they will receive; and

  • that any special arrangements to help or protect them have been made.

The respondent may agree to co-sign Form D8A to show that he or she agrees with what the petitioner proposes.

Immigration 101: General Visitors (#2)

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No.2 - General Visitors

Eligibility

So-called general visitors to the UK must be able to show that:

  • they are 18 or over;

  • they only want to visit the UK for up to six months (or 12 months if they are accompanying an academic visitor);

  • they intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit;

  • they have enough money to support and accommodate themselves without working or help from public funds, or they (and any dependants) will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends; and

  • they can meet the cost of the return or onward journey. 

General visitors must also show that during their visit they do not intend to:

  • take employment, produce goods or provide services;

  • undertake a course of study;

  • marry or form a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership;

  • carry out the activities of a business visitor, a sports visitor or an entertainer visitor; or

  • receive private medical treatment.

Workplace Sexual Discrimination Law

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Workplace sexual discrimination law prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

  • gender;

  • marital status;

  • gender reassignment; &

  • sexual orientation.

The law applies to all areas of employment, including:

Divorce 101: Arrangements For Children - Northern Ireland (#18)

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No. 18 - Arrangements For Children - Northern Ireland

Once you have made the decision to separate, you will need to discuss arrangements for the children - namely, child custody and child maintenance.  The Decree Nisi could be delayed if there are still arguments about where the children are to live or over contact; and the court may refuse to grant the Decree Absolute if arrangements for the children are not satisfactory.

Reaching an agreement

If a couple can agree about arrangements for children outside of court, the divorce process will be a lot easier for all concerned.  Many couples use and/or to help facilitate an agreement.

Once an agreement is reached, you should fill out a 'Statement of arrangements for the children,' also known as form M4.

Divorce 101: Arrangements For Children - Scotland (#17)

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No. 17 - Arrangements For Children - Scotland

Once you have made the decision to separate, you will need to discuss arrangements for the children - namely, and .

Reaching an agreement

If you can agree about arrangements for children outside of court, the divorce process will be a lot easier for all concerned.  Many parents use and/or to help facilitate an agreement.

After an agreement is reached, it must be presented to the court alongside two 'affidavits.'  The affidavits must set out the proposed arrangements and satisfy the court that the children's interests have been safeguarded.

If you can't reach agreement

If you can't agree on arrangements, you may apply to the court to make a decision for you.  The court will schedule a 'Child Welfare Hearing' where the points at issue can be discussed.

Sheriffs normally try to persuade parents to compromise and reach agreement.  But, if this is not possible, disputes will be settled through 'proof hearings,' where  parties give spoken evidence and are subject to cross examination - these hearings can be lengthy and expensive.

Sheriffs may also appoint an independent person to make inquiries and report to the court to assist early decisions.

Divorce 101: Arrangements For Children - England & Wales (#16)

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No. 16 - Arrangements For Children - England & Wales

Once you have made the decision to separate, you will need to discuss arrangements for the children - namely, and .  The Decree Nisi could be delayed if there are still arguments about where the children are to live or over contact; and the court may refuse to grant the Decree Absolute if arrangements for the children are not satisfactory.

Reaching an agreement

If a couple can agree about arrangements for children outside of court, the divorce process will be a lot easier for all concerned.  Many couples use and/or to help facilitate an agreement.

Once an agreement is reached, you should fill out a .

Redundancy Pay Tied To Average Earnings Index

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The  in Liverpool. 

As reported last week, the TUC is calling on the government .  Union leaders also hope to persuade the government to increase the the weekly limit for statutory redundancy pay from £350 (which rises to £380 starting October 1) to at least £500, and to ensure that future rises are in line with average earnings.

The current £350 limit is far lower in real terms than the original value of statutory redundancy pay when it was introduced in 1965 to ensure that employees are properly compensated when they lose their jobs.

Immigration 101: The Basics (#1)

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Immigration law regulates who can visit the UK and how long they can stay for.  It also dictates who can stay here permanently and when a person can claim asylum

The complexities of UK immigration law overwhelm many people... for a variety of reasons: some live outside the UK or only recently arrived here; others have problems speaking, reading, or writing English; while even more find the UK legal system and/or cultural norms utterly confusing!

Well, FindLaw's Immigration 101 aims to remedy all that!

Kevin Keegan's Case For Constructive Dismissal

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It's just over a year since King Kev resigned as manager of Newcastle United and issued the following statement:

"I've been working desperately hard to find a way forward with the directors but sadly that has not proved possible.  It's my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want.  I have been left with no choice other than to leave."

Shortly after his resignation, Keegan lodged a claim for unfair .  Keegan is reportedly claiming £10 million in compensation and costs, and a long-awaited tribunal is due to sit next week.

Unfair Dismissal: Executive Sacked Over Belief In Climate Change

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In March, an employment law judge ruled that could invoke legal protection against discrimination. 

Tim Nicholson, 41, had been head of sustainability at Grainger plc, Britain's biggest residential property investment company, until he was made redundant in July last year.  He claims he was made redundant because of his strong belief about the importance of the environment, which he alleges put him at odds with other senior executives within the firm.

Under UK employment law, philosophical belief is protected alongside religious belief if it is cogent, serious and "worthy of respect in a democratic society." 

"[My belief] affects how I live my life including my choice of home, how I travel, what I buy, what I eat and drink, what I do with my waste, and my hopes and fears," says Mr. Nicholson. 

"For example, I no longer travel by plane, I have eco-renovated my home, I compost my food waste and encourage others to reduce their carbon emissions."

UK Immigration: New Student Visa Rules Hit The Headlines

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Foreign students play a big role in the UK's cultural and economic wealth and help make the country's education sector one of the finest in the world.  In 2008, tuition fees from international students totalled over £2.5 billion.  Earlier this year, however, the government completely overhauled the immigration system - including the rules for obtaining international student visas.

Redundancy Pay: 20 Million Employees Miss Out

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The  in Liverpool.  TUC leaders will call on the government to reduce the qualifying period for statutory redundancy pay (SRP) entitlement from two years to 12 months.  Research shows that more than 20 million employees across the UK could benefit from this step.

Currently, employees aged 16 or over are entitled to SRP after a two year qualifying period working for the same employer, so the youngest age at which an employee can benefit from redundancy pay is 18.

BNP Must Admit Non-White Members

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In the face of a court challenge brought by the  (EHRC), the far-right British National party (BNP) has agreed to change its constitution and admit non-white members.

Currently, the BNP's constitution limits membership to people who are "'indigenous Caucasian' and defined 'ethnic groups' emanating from that race." 

Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or skin colour, however, is expressly prohibited by the Race Relations Act.

Divorce 101: Mediation (#15)

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No. 15 - Mediation

 is an alternative to litigation and can be cheaper, quicker and less stressful.  It is a voluntary process where an impartial and independent third party helps the parties negotiate a resolution to divorce disputes.  If the parties do not want to negotiate in person, a mediator may act as go-between.  Everything that occurs during mediation remains confidential and cannot be used in a later court hearing.

The parties, not the mediator nor a judge, decide the outcome.  Parties discuss their issues and concerns in a safe, neutral environment and have the opportunity to improve their communication and chances of long-term co-operation, often necessary where there are children.

BNP Barred From Schools

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A teachers' union, the NASUWT, which represents a quarter of a million teachers in Britain, has threatened .

The union says a primary school in the Midlands plans to hold an election this term that could see a BNP councillor become vice-chair of its governing body.

If a BNP councillor is elected to a school governing body, the NASUWT will seek judicial review of the appointment under the Race Relations Act.

Under section 71 of the Act, governing bodies must carry out their duties with "due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups."

Women Are Paid 50% Less Than Men

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Women in some of the UK's leading finance companies are paid almost 50% less than male counterparts, an inquiry by the has found.

In 2008, the finance sector employed 1.3 million people in Britain, which equates to 4% of the total workforce.  And 51% of employees within the finance sector are women.

Home Repossession Advice: It's Your Home, Let's Keep It That Way

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The Government has launched a national campaign to help struggling homeowners take control of their finances and make the most of available support to avoid repossessions and stay in their homes.  

The advertising campaign will focus on publicising the new  and the National Debtline (tel: 0808 808 4000), where concerned homeowners can obtain impartial advice and information on how to develop a personal action plan to resolve mortgage repayment problems.

People concerned about meeting their mortgage payments, those already in arrears or threatened with repossession action from their lender, and homeowners facing a court hearing will be given guidance on the steps they can take to keep their homes.

Learning Revolution

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Creative music master classes for people out of work or education, learning adventures for isolated older people and access to digital technologies in a Tyneside Cinema are all on offer thanks to a significant investment in 'learning for pleasure' announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) today.  

The £20 million Transformation Fund, launched by the Government to offer grants for more than 213 innovative informal adult learning projects in England, will bring to life The Learning Revolution, a White Paper presented to Parliament in March 2009. 

The projects, many spearheaded by partnerships between public, private and third sector organisations, will help improve mental health, physical well-being, active citizenship and community cohesion, as well as providing a stepping stone towards further learning, qualifications and employment for many people. 

Immigration: New Work Visa Rules To Help Resident Workers

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The Government has announced a raft of new measures to give resident workers a better opportunity to fill vacancies before they are offered to workers abroad.

Last month, the to tighten up the rules controlling when skilled workers are allowed to take jobs in the UK under the immigration points based system.

The Government has decided to accept the recommendations, which will now be implemented to ensure the immigration system does more to support UK workers while continuing to facilitate the trade, travel, and study that benefits the UK.

From next year, all jobs must be advertised to British workers in Jobcentre Plus for four weeks, extended from two weeks, before companies can seek to employ individuals from outside Europe.

The Government will also extend the qualifying period for overseas workers who want to transfer to work at the UK base of their company.  This will mean they must work for their firm for at least a year rather than just six months prior to the move.

The minimum salary that will allow an individual to qualify as a skilled worker and be eligible to work in the UK will also rise from £17,000 to £20,000.

Demi Moore Twitter War With Perez Hilton

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Have you read about the recent Twitter exchange between and ?! 

Well, Hilton picked a fight by posting a link to photographs of Moore's daughter, Tallulah Willis, on Twitter, while also attacking the parenting skills of Moore, her husband Ashton Kushner, and ex-husband Bruce Willis:

"Tallulah Willis, 15, dressing like a slut!  Look at her boobs!  Demi, Ashton and Bruce are GREAT parents!

...

"Not only is she dressing like a slut, but she's also hitting the clubs at 15!  How long 'til rehab?"

Understandably, Moore was not too happy:

"Clearly Perez Hilton doesn't take violating child pornography laws very seriously... but there are a lot of people who do!

...

"Anyone who advertises, follows, or supports Perez supports violating child pornography laws!"

Hilton then threatened legal action:

"Should I sue Demi Moore?

...

"Still waiting for you to retract your incorrect, libellous and defamatory statements."

Bullied Green Keeper Wins Compensation For Constructive Dismissal

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Andrew Beck, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and learning difficulties, has been awarded £78,000 in compensation for constructive dismissal and disability discrimination.

An employment tribunal ruled Mr. Beck's supervisor bullied and intimidated him for a number of years while he worked as a green keeper at Davyhulme Park Golf Club. 

He was told to wear a red hat to distinguish him from other staff and to alert golfers to his presence.  He was also ordered to carry heavy equipment in a wheelbarrow after he was banned from using a motorised vehicle, meaning that his duties involved an unfair amount of heavy work, often without breaks.

One Christmas, staff received presents -- Mr. Beck was given a Star Wars game, however, and felt humiliated because it was only suitable for children.  On another occasion, his supervisor approached him from behind and violently knocked a rake out of his hands.  He then pushed him out of the way, using bad language.

Mr. Beck eventually resigned due to poor health.

Retirement Home Exit Fees: OFT Launches Investigation

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The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched an investigation into fees charged by retirement homes when residents sell or rent their properties.  It has issued formal written notices to 26 retirement homes and given them 14 days to respond.

The OFT believes contract terms providing for 'exit fees' charged to owner-occupants of '' may be unfair and breach the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.

Divorce 101: Collaborative Law (#14)

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No. 14 - Collaborative Law

Normally, when a marriage ends, the spouses appoint solicitors who conduct negotiations on behalf of the parties at arms-length, either by letter or telephone.  The divorce process can drag on for a long time and, in many cases, causes needless delay, frustration, and acrimony. 

Many cases end up in court - which is not cheap.  Last summer, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were rumoured to have spent a combined total of £4 million on legal fees.  In challenging economic times, many people simply cannot afford to go to court, and the process has gained increasing popularity.

Kiwi Sacked For Writing Emails In Capital Letters

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A Kiwi accountant, Vicki Walker, who was sacked for sending "confrontational" emails, has been awarded NZ$17,000 for .

Her employer ProCare justified the sacking on the basis that Walker "caused disharmony in the workplace by using block capitals, bold typeface and red text in her emails."

Yet, the company introduced only one email in evidence.  The email, which provides advice on how to fill out staff claim forms, specifies a time and date highlighted in bold red, and a sentence written in capitals and highlighted in bold blue.  It reads: "TO ENSURE YOUR STAFF CLAIM IS PROCESSED AND PAID, PLEASE FOLLOW THE BELOW CHECKLIST."

As part of her compensation, Walker was awarded nearly $6,000 in lost wages for the 13 weeks between leaving ProCare and finding a new job.  She was also awarded $11,500 for other harm caused through her dismissal. 

Is Your FiancÈ A Closet Porn Star?

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Earlier this summer, Claire Smith, 23, eagerly looked forward to the most important day of her life.  She was engaged to strapping 28-year-old fitness freak Peter Janus, who'd proposed in ¸ber romantic circumstances and bought her an expensive diamond engagement ring.

As Claire concentrated on finalising arrangements for the wedding, a friend was delegated the task of organising a hen party.  The friend thought it would be fun to hire a male stripper for the party and started browsing for one online.  While browsing, she stumbled upon a man who looked just like Peter.  Except this guy wasn't a stripper.  He was having sex with a woman in an adult movie...

The friend showed Claire the clip and it turns out the man in the film actually was Peter

After she found out her fiancÈ was a closet porn star, Claire decided to cancel the wedding. 

Now the dust has settled, can she sell the engagement ring Peter gave her and pocket the proceeds?

Divorce 101: The Cost of Divorce in Northern Ireland (#13)

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No. 13 - The Cost of Divorce in Northern Ireland

In 2006, Norwich Union (now called Aviva) published a study on divorce costs.  The study said the average cost of a divorce for a couple in the UK is around £28,000 - this figure includes things like the cost of setting up a new home and buying personal items (e.g., a second car).  As for legal fees, the study estimated that on average each divorcee spends around £2,000.

Legal costs vary greatly, of course, depending on , the , the that arise, and .  With divorce lawyers charging anywhere between £100 and £500 per hour (plus VAT), costs can rise significantly where a couple have significant assets and are in dispute over how these should be divided up.

Divorce 101: The Cost of Divorce in Scotland (#12)

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No. 12 - The Cost of Divorce in Scotland

In 2006, Norwich Union (now called Aviva) published a study on divorce costs.  The study said the average cost of a divorce for a couple in the UK is around £28,000 - this figure includes things like the cost of setting up a new home and buying personal items (e.g., a second car). 

As for legal fees, the study estimated that on average each divorcee spends around £2,000.

Legal costs vary greatly, of course, depending on , the , the that arise, , and which you pursue.

Divorce 101: The Cost Of Divorce In England & Wales (#11)

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No. 11 - The Cost Of Divorce In England & Wales

In 2006, Norwich Union (now called Aviva) published a study on the 'Cost of Divorce.'  The study said the average divorce costs a couple around £28,000 - this figure includes things like the cost of setting up a new home and buying personal items (e.g., a second car).  As for legal fees, the study estimated that on average each divorcee spends around £2000.  

Legal costs vary greatly, of course, depending on the solicitor you choose, the complexity of the issues that arise, and how much you and your partner can agree about things.  With divorce lawyers charging anywhere between £100 and £500 per hour (plus VAT), costs can rise significantly where a couple have significant assets and are in dispute over how these should be divided up.

Glue Label Alert

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Poundland has issued a for Power Glue due to a labelling defect.

The company says the following product has a labelling issue that may lead to misuse:

#74041 - POWER GLUE EPOXY 12ML

Barcode: 8711252372853 / Item No: 37285

Blind Daredevil Abseils Waterfall To Promote 'Elf & Safety'

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On September 9, a blind daredevil will make an intrepid descent of an icy cold Scottish waterfall near Fort William to mark a major milestone in a campaign to hit back at so called 'elf and safety.'

Dean Dunbar, who is registered blind, runs , a website aimed at helping people with disabilities find companies that will help them take part in extreme sports.

Extreme Dreams is the thousandth organisation to sign up to a campaign organised by the Health and Safety Executive ("HSE") to get employers to focus on real risks not trivia and pointless paperwork.

HSE is concerned about erroneous reports of people being told they cannot do something for because of health and safety law.  The majority of the time they are way off the mark and serve only to stoke ignorance and mistrust of the genuine safety work.

 has garnered the support of 1,000 organisations around Britain.  It hopes to encourage more organisations to sign up to the Pledge and make a commitment to debunking myths surrounding health and safety that trivialise the impact of injuries, ill health and deaths on individuals and their families.

Susan Boyle Breakdown: Other Legal Ramifications

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he or she would benefit from a number of employment rights, including:

Susan Boyle: Employee, Worker Or Merely A Contestant?

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As the , today's blog focuses on whether Susan Boyle was an 'employee,' a  'worker,' or merely a contestant on the TV show Britain's Got Talent

This issue has received a lot of attention recently, particularly after the French Supreme Court awarded three former Temptation Island contestants Ä8,000 (£6,900) in unpaid overtime for hours spent 'working' on the show.  Employment law expert .

Unfair Employment Dismissal: Fired Before 50

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A former Cumbrian health boss looks set to appeal against a tribunal's decision not to award him £700,000 compensation for alleged .  An employment tribunal said NHS Cumbria was right to dismiss Nigel Woodcock before his 50th birthday to avoid paying £500,000 in enhanced benefits.

Mr Woodcock lost his job as chief executive of the North Cumbria Primary Care Trust (PCT) in a 2006 reorganisation.  He received £225,000 compensation, but claims he should have received more and was .

The PCT maintains that his job no longer existed after the reorganisation, however, and that it acted reasonably to save the taxpayer money.

Mr Woodcock's solicitor Sarah Lawrence said: "We are extremely disappointed with the decision reached by the tribunal.  We are currently reviewing the decision in some detail with our client and will undoubtedly be advising him to appeal."

Argos Kitchen Utensil Sets Contain Dangerous Levels of Chemicals

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Argos has issued a for three sets of kitchen utensils: catalogue numbers 842/1863, 861/0715 and 861/0306.  The company has identified that some of the nylon utensils in the sets contain levels of 'Primary Aromatic Amine' chemicals that 'exceed those permitted for use in products that come into contact with food.'

BNP Court Challenge

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The far-right British National party (BNP) is being taken to court by the because BNP membership criteria breaches the .  A court hearing on the Commission's application for an injunction against the BNP will take place today.

The BNP's constitution limits membership to people who are "'indigenous Caucasian' and defined 'ethnic groups' emanating from that race."  The discrimination against certain 'ethnic groups' and people whose skin colour is not white is expressly prohibited by the Race Relations Act.

Susan Boyle Breakdown Casts Long Shadow Over Reality TV

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The social and legal ramifications of Susan Boyle's breakdown still cast a long shadow over the talent show TV industry.  But a number of people associated with the programme Britain's Got Talent spoke out in its defence at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival last week.

The show's hosts, Declan Donnelly and Anthony McPartlin, said the programme makers had "no right" to stop Boyle - a contestant with learning difficulties, who suffered a nervous breakdown in June - from competing.

They also hit back at claims they "manipulated" Boyle and ten-year-old Hollie Steele, who also appeared on the show and burst into tears in front of millions of viewers.

Redundancy: 5 Things You Need To Know

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1. What is redundancy?

occurs when an employer needs to reduce the workforce for some reason unrelated to the conduct or capability of the individual(s) concerned.  Generally, your job must disappear for you to be made redundant, but it can also happen if someone else's job disappears and they are moved into your job, making you redundant.  (Note: This is known as "," which often happens when a more senior employee is prepared to take a more junior role to avoid redundancy.  An employer may find it hard to justify bumping as fair, however, which could lead to a claim for .)

2. What are my 'redundancy rights'?

Employees have a number of legal rights in relation to redundancy, including:

  • right to consultation before redundancy to discuss alternatives

  • right to fair and objective redundancy selection criteria and procedures

  • right to an explanation of the reasons for dismissal and the basis of selection

  • right to appeal against redundancy

  • right to try any alternative offer of employment for four weeks

  • right to notice period or payment in lieu of notice

  • right to take reasonable time off, with pay, to look for alternative work or training

  • right to redundancy payment, provided the employee satisfies eligibility requirements

If your employer violates your redundancy rights, you may be entitled to compensation.

3. Do I qualify for redundancy pay?

To work out whether or not you qualify for redundancy pay, you should first look at your contract of employment.  If it doesn't mention a payment or you don't have a contract, you may still be legally entitled to statutory redundancy pay.

Generally, you must have worked for at least two years with your employer whilst you were over the age of 18 to qualify for redundancy pay.  This rule does not apply, however, if you think that your employer has discriminated against you in the way that you were selected for redundancy (for example if you were selected on the basis of your race, sex or because of any disability you might have).

Family Mediation & Dispute Resolution

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The government has launched a new .  The website gives advice on how to avoid damaging and expensive court battles by using mediation.  is an alternative to litigation and can be cheaper, quicker and less stressful.  It is a voluntary process where a neutral third party helps both sides to agree on the outcome.  In announcing the new site, the government said "the courts should be the last resort for people involved in family disputes."

Family Mediation Helpline 

HM's Courts Service launched the Family Mediation Helpline in May 2006.  Trained operators provide information to callers about family mediation, whether it is suitable for particular cases and whether parties may be eligible for public funding.  Families can call the helpline on 0845 602 6627.

Constructive Dismissal: 'Sexy' Prison Guard Quit Over Bullying

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A prison officer has claimed her co-workers hounded her out of her job by repeatedly criticising her for being "too sexy" and "glammed up." 

Amitjo Kajla, 22, from Wolverhampton, told an employment tribunal how colleagues at Brinsford Young Offenders' Institution complained that she wore too much make-up and that her clothing was too provocative.

A former colleague, Michael Doolan, told the hearing her appearance was "overbearing" and brought  "unwarranted attention" from inmates.  Mr Doolan said Ms. Kajla wore a significant amount of make-up including "heavy eyeliner, dark mascara, rouge on her cheeks and embossed lipstick."

Ms. Kajila claims she was often mocked and reprimanded in front of inmates and other staff, which made her feel harassed and humiliated.  She told the tribunal: "I couldn't sleep at night because of the bullying and harassment.  I lost weight and decided I couldn't take it any longer and resigned."

Ms. Kajila is claiming compensation for constructive unfair dismissal.

Man Sells Disabled Sister For UK Marriage Visa

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Last week, the printed a story about Michael Wright, 22, of Swindon, who 'sold' his disabled sister to a Chinese man so he could obtain a UK marriage visa.  Reading Register Office almost married the 'couple' before police stormed the building to stop the wedding.

Four people were arrested - Wright and three Chinese men - on a variety of immigration and perjury charges.  The woman, who has not been named, is now in the care of social services.

UK Marriage Visa Rules

If you have legitimate relationship with a person in the UK, you can apply to live in this country as his/her: