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In May 2014, in an attempt to simplify the Tribunal system and make it more efficient, the Government imposed a duty on claimants to attempt early conciliation through Acas before bringing a claim. A recent report provides information about the impact of Acas Early Conciliation in its first year.

The Early Conciliation Process

The Acas Early Conciliation process (“EC”) was introduced by the Government on 6 April 2014, and became mandatory from 6 May 2014. All prospective claimants in the Employment Tribunal must now go through the EC process and obtain an EC certificate from Acas before bringing a claim.

Once the prospective claimant contacts Acas, a Conciliation Officer will explore over the period of one month, whether settlement is possible between the parties. If a party is not interested in settlement, or if the Conciliation Offer considers that settlement is not possible, an EC certificate will be issued to the claimant. Neither party is obliged to conciliate.


Continue Reading Acas Early Conciliation – One Year On

This morning the Prime Minister made an important announcement regarding the new reporting requirement in the Modern Slavery Act. David Cameron confirmed that businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more will be caught by the Act and will therefore be required to produce an annual slavery and human trafficking statement from October 2015.

The Modern Slavery Act was passed in March 2015. When section 54 of the Act comes into force, large businesses will be required to report annually on their efforts to ensure the business and its supply chains are free of slavery and human trafficking. Below, we consider what businesses need to do to comply.

The obligation

Section 54 of the Act requires businesses over a certain size to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. The statement must confirm either:

  1. the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any of its supply chains or in any part of its own business; or
  2. that no such steps have been taken.

A link to the statement must be published in a prominent position on the business’ website homepage and the statement must be approved and signed by a director. So, although businesses could opt to take no action as a result of the Act and simply produce a statement under option (b), the Government hopes that public pressure and scrutiny from shareholders and the media, together with the risk of reputational damage, will encourage businesses to take real steps to investigate their supply chains and publish details of their efforts. Experience in California, with similar legislation, suggests businesses will not go for option (b).


Continue Reading The Modern Slavery Act: What You Need To Know

Following abolition of the national default retirement age of 65 last year, the Government left open the possibility for employers to introduce their own “employer justified retirement age” provided the age set was capable of being objectively justified in order to meet the employer’s legitimate aims for introducing this policy.   A recent decision of the Supreme Court in Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes (A Partnership) indicates that although it may be technically possible to justify a retirement age, an employer will be taking a big risk in attempting to do so (the Seldon case concerned a partnership but the same principles will apply in an employment case). In another decision heard at the same time, Homer v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, the Supreme Court considered whether an employer’s policy of restricting promotion to employees with a law degree was justified indirect age discrimination against an employee who didn’t have a law degree and didn’t have the time to obtain one before retirement.

Continue Reading UK Supreme Court rules on two important age discrimination cases

The High Court of England and Wales has considered the construction of non-solicitation clauses where the former client initiated contact with the ex-employee. In Baldwins (Ashby) Limited v Andrew Maidstone (PDF), the Court held that the substance of what passes between the parties will determine whether there has been a breach of a non-solicitation clause and that how contact is first initiated is not relevant. The case is a useful reminder of the value of including non-dealing restrictions in addition to non-solicitation provisions in commercial agreements and employment contracts.

What happened in this case?

The defendant, Mr Maidstone, sold his accountancy business to the Claimant (Baldwins (Ashby) Limited) for approximately £1m in September 2007. Following the sale of the business Mr Maidstone was employed by Baldwins until November 2009, when he moved to a firm called Charnwoods. The sale agreement contained a three year covenant protecting the goodwill in the company from Mr Maidstone ‘canvassing, soliciting or endeavouring to entice away’ any of his former clients. Baldwins brought proceedings against Mr Maidstone alleging that he was in breach of this covenant.

Continue Reading When accepting business from former clients breaches a non-solicitation covenant under UK law