Oops, we've done it again! Breeze & Wyles Solicitors Ltd now ranked as part of the Legal 500!

Breeze & Wyles Solicitors Ltd are pleased to announce that they have been ranked by the Legal 500 – what does this mean then?  The Legal 500 which has been published for over 27 years is a client’s guide to the capabilities of the individual law firms and acts as a recommendation of the very best legal service providers in over 100 countries.  A unique book which surveys law firms and barrister’s chambers who are researched by a team of experienced award winning writers who then rank that firm based on their findings.  It is the client’s “trip advisor” of legal services.  References are taken up from clients who have used the legal services of a firm and are a vital component of their evaluation providing an independent appraisal of the services.  To be recognised by such an prestigious organisation has been amazing and we are delighted!

Setting the boundaries for when staff are tweeting

Businesses  need to sharpen up on terms of employment if they are to tackle bad behaviour on private Twitter feeds.

A personal remark on a personal twitter feed can be reasonable grounds for disciplinary action by an employer.  That’s the finding of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) after an employer dismissed a member of staff for posting allegedly abusive, non work-related messages on his personal Twitter account.
The case centred on an employee of Game Retail, who was employed in a role with responsibility for working with 100 of its retail stores. The employee had a personal Twitter account and this was followed by a number of the stores from around the country.  When he posted potentially offensive tweets about towns he travelled to, Game undertook a disciplinary investigation which found him guilty of gross misconduct.  He was dismissed immediately and later brought a claim for unfair dismissal.
The first stage tribunal ruled in his favour, saying that the action was not a reasonable response by the employer, but, on appeal, the EAT said that the first stage ruling failed to take full account of the public nature of Twitter and whether the employee’s private use of Twitter was truly private, given that he was followed by a number of other employees.
Whilst the EAT recognised the right to freedom of expression, this was to be balanced with the employer wanting to reduce reputational risk. The appeal tribunal also said that there was no need for Game to demonstrate that the tweets had actually caused offence, only that they had the potential to do so. 
The ruling is a reminder to business to tighten up on their employment contracts if they want to react to tweets by staff. 
"Despite this ruling, private comments made on social media remain a grey area,." explained Brendan O’Brien Managing Director at Breeze & Wyles Solicitors Ltd.  “The EAT did not give any general guidance on when dismissal for social media misuse would be appropriate, saying that every case must be judged on the facts and the test of whether an employer is making a  ‘reasonable response’.”
He added:  "Operationally, it’s another aspect of social media usage that needs to be clarified within terms of employment, as employers need to make it clear what online conduct is considered to be unacceptable, whether made on behalf of the company or personally.” 
A further tribunal hearing will now decide the final outcome in the case of Game Retail Limited v Laws, in the light of the EAT’s ruling. 
This information is not intended as legal advice
Game Retail Limited v Laws UKEAT/0188/14/DA

Turning up the heat on non resident parents.

With in excess of £1bn owed in unpaid child maintenance owed by non resident parents the government is understandably keen not only to assist in enabling the parents with care to recover those sums but also to be seen to be assisting parents who are of course also voters caught in a system for dealing with child maintenance which has been dogged with criticisms since its inception.
With this in mind, Parliament is currently considering changes which would mean that a parent who fails to pay their child maintenance, could find that their credit rating is severely affected. A credit rating is the information which is used by banks and other financial institutions when they are making decisions in relation to loans, mortgages and credit cards. A bad credit rating can result in an inability to obtain credit or being denied the best rates and lenders willing to provide credit only if you are willing to pay higher interest rates.
The new provisions would not result in all payment records being shared with the credit reference agencies in England, Scotland and Wales but only those whose payment history has been so bad that an application had to be made to the court to obtain an order setting out the debt. The hope is, however, that this power will encourage payment to be made in order to avoid falling afoul and suffering damage to their credit reputation.
Should you need advice in relation to maintenance or any other aspect in relation to children or finances arising on divorce or separation, please do not hesitate to call our family team on 01992 558411.

Karen Johnson is an Associate Solicitor and Family Mediator of Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd. A Graduate of the University of East Anglia who then completed her Legal Practice Course at the College of Law in London, qualified as a Solicitor in 2002 working in a local High Street Firm before joining Breeze & Wyles Solicitors in 2009 and becoming an Associate with the firm in 2011. Karen is a highly skilled and experienced Family Solicitor with in excess of 10 years experience of working in Family Law. She is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in the fields of Domestic Violence and Financial Matters. Karen is additionally a Family Mediator trained by and a member of the Family Mediators Association (The FMA) an association with over 20 years experience of Family Mediation.

New EU Insolvency Rules – A ‘Win-Win’ solution for businesses and their creditors?

In December 2014 the EU announced new regulations that are aimed at recovering and rescuing struggling businesses, rather than allowing them to fail.
EU Justice Commissioner, Věra Jourová, confirmed that the new rules will give “viable businesses a much-needed second chance” and commented that the agreement is “an important milestone…in creating the best possible environment for growth and investment in Europe”.
The rules will assist companies involved in potential cross-border proceedings by simplifying the process for restructuring and by limiting the possibility of secondary insolvency proceedings in other member states. The interests of local creditors will still be protected by virtue of unilateral undertakings provided by the liquidator in the main proceedings, to the effect that when distributing the proceeds, they will treat local creditors exactly as they would be treated under secondary proceedings.

Another important aspect of the new rules, particularly from the perspective of creditors, is that they restrict ‘forum shopping’, whereby failing businesses attempt to choose the court that they feel will provide the most positive outcome for them.

These developments certainly reflect the fact that the EU is moving towards a culture of rescue and recovery and this can only be a positive development for the businesses concerned, their creditors and the economy. If a company is able to remain in business (eventually becoming a profitable concern once more) then they are more likely to be able to repay their debts in full. This will also preserve the jobs of their employees and lead to a stronger economy, contributing to the overall economic recovery in Europe.

The new rules will be effective from May 2015 onwards but will not fully come into force until 2017. We will provide more information in relation to these regulations as the situation develops. If you require any advice in relation to cross-border insolvency, from the point of view of debtor or creditor, then please do not hesitate to contact either myself or our Head of Business Services team: Maria.Koureas-Jones@breezeandwyles.co.uk.

Donna Bromyard
Trainee Solicitor
Business Services Department
Breeze & Wyles Solicitors Ltd
Tel: 01992 558411