The UK Parliament on the International Day of Parliamentarism

The 30th June is the International Day of Parlimentarism. Established by the United Nations and celebrated on this day every year, the day ‘is a time to review the progress that parliaments have made in achieving some key goals to be more representative and move with the times, including carrying out self-assessments, working to include more women and young MPs, and adapting to new technologies (un.org).’ In relation to this, Dr John McGarry, Senior Law Lecturer, discusses the UK Parliament.

On International Day of Parliamentarism it is appropriate to recognise the central and preeminent role that the UK Parliament plays in the legal and political landscape of the country. Parliament comprises three bodies: the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarch. It is sometimes, more formally known as the Queen in Parliament. The House of Commons is made up of 650 directly elected MPs. The House of Lords consists of 700-800 peers which include appointed Life Peers, up to 92 hereditary peers and up to 26 Bishops of the Church of England.

Parliament has a number of roles. First and foremost, it is the UK’s primary legislature which means that it legislates, it creates law. Its powers here are unusual (though not unique) in that it is sovereign which means, in this context, that it may make any law whatsoever. That is, there are no restraints on the legislative power of Parliament. If an Act of Parliament is enacted in the correct way then, regardless of how improper, immoral or unconstitutional it is considered to be, the courts cannot overrule it or strike it out. As I say, this is unusual. In many countries, the law-making competence of the legislature is constrained by the constitution. For instance, in the US, an Act of Congress (roughly the equivalent of an Act of Parliament) may be struck down by the courts if it breaches the Constitution.

Another important role of Parliament is holding the Government to account – obliging the Government to explain and defend its actions and respond appropriately to any criticisms. It is worth emphasising here that Parliament and the Government are two distinct bodies exercising distinct functions. This fact is sometimes lost because it is a rule of the UK constitution that all Ministers – the main political actors of Government – must be a member of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Moreover, the Prime Minister must be a member of the House of Commons (rather than the House of Lords) and is the person who commands – and must maintain – the majority of support in the House of Commons.

This requirement – that the Government is formed from Parliament and must maintain the confidence (the majority of support) of the Commons – is why the UK system of government is parliamentary in nature. It may be contrasted with a presidential system where the head of government is directly elected by voters.

The importance of Parliament’s role in holding the Government to account is demonstrated by it being one of the bases of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2019 that the Government’s attempt to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. The Court held that parliamentary accountability – Parliament holding the Government to account –is a fundamental constitutional principle and that this principle would be frustrated by such a lengthy prorogation. So, unless there was a reasonable justification for the five week prorogation, it was unlawful.

The accountability of Government to Parliament occurs in many ways. Undoubtedly, the most well known is Prime Minister’s Question time when the Prime Minister answers questions from MPs about the Government’s actions and decisions. This accountability is facilitated by a number of non-legal rules governing how members of the Government ought to behave. One of the most important is that Ministers must be honest with Parliament. The Ministerial Code – which sets basic standards of ministerial behaviour – states: ‘It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity’. Without this obligation of honesty, Parliament would be seriously hampered in its ability to hold the Government to account.

This, though, raises questions which I will state but not answer. As I have indicated, many of the most important obligations under the UK constitution are non-legal in nature. As such, they rely on those in power knowing, and adhering to, the rules of the game. This is sometimes known as the ‘Good Chaps’ theory of Government – that those in power will act like good chaps (or chapesses) and comply with the non-legal rules. Yet, what happens when those in power no longer feel obliged to comply with these rules? Can Parliament exercise its function of holding the Government to account if the Government no longer feels obliged to, for instance, give accurate and truthful information to Parliament? As I say, this is not a question which I will attempt to answer here. It is, however, an important question and it is one that my colleague Donna Graham, Staffordshire University lecturer, is currently looking at as part of her PhD.

GradEx21

GradEx is the annual graduate exhibition showcasing all of the fantastic work of our final year students to industry experts. This usually takes place on campus, but has taken place online the past two years, due to the pandemic. 

You can view all GradEx entries here, but below are the entries for subjects across the School of Law, Policing and Forensics.

Forensic Investigation and Forensic Science

An evaluation and comparison of LED torches for the use in scene examination

Kathryn Davis’ research evaluated ‘the PIT-LED torch using questionnaires completed by Forensic Investigators at Staffordshire Police and [compared them] with alternative torches focusing on the illumination of fingermarks on various reflective surfaces’.

Assessing the Policies and Processes for Sexual Offences at HEIs

Elliot Parkin’s project assessed ‘the policies and processes for sexual offences at HEIs; recommendations were made to improve these from staff and student responses to questionnaires, interviews and focus groups’.

Can we tell if wildlife have been shot with air weapons or .22 long rifles?

Eva Booth ‘worked with the Zoological Society of London researching methods to determine if birds had been shot with a 22 long rifle or air rifle by examining feathers’ and using a ‘Scanning Electron Microscope with energy dispersive X-ray analysis combined with image analysis to examine areas of damage, and quantity and distribution of areas of heavy elements.’

 

Do 3D-printed firearms pose a threat to the UK and Globally?

Ben Gordon researched ‘revolving 3-Dimensional printed firearms and the threats that may come with them.’ Ben said ‘It is important to conduct this research to bring attention to 3-D printed firearms and how they may be a breach of security. The current knowledge most people have on these 3D guns are either minimal or none, which allows this research to teach people of these uncommon hazards.’

Establishing Pro Forma for the Identification of Migrating Syrian Refugees

Jourdaine Das-Gupta’s ‘research involved creating a specified DVI pro forma for the identification of Syrian refugees, in light of the 6.5 million displaced persons since the Syrian Civil War in 2011. A number of specifying details were identified, and further research ideas were explored.’

Q-TOF LCMS Identification of Decomposition Chemicals in Aquatic Environment

Natalia Ciesielska’s ‘experiment successfully demonstrated that Q-TOF LCMS used for untargeted analysis to identify chemicals of interest released by mouse decomposition in aqueous environments is a powerful detection technique. The untargeted searchers identified complex chemical mixtures, containing 31 chemicals of interest in samples of the mice cadavers submerged in water.’

Reporting of Sexual offences in the Asian Community.

Aiyra Zahid’s project ‘looked at the reasons for under reporting of sexual offences in the Asian community and the stigma surrounding this topic . It utilised the knowledge of those in the community to create strategies of ways in which reporting rates can be increased in the community.’

The effect of menorrhea on persistence of semen in sexual offence victims

For their research, Wiktoria Flos used a ‘gynaecological model to simulate a female victim. Neat semen and mix bodily fluids of neat semen and menorrhea were deposited inside the model and left for 2 and 20 hours.  . The results revealed a statistical difference between the persistence of spermatozoa in neat semen and mix bodily fluids whereas, there was no statistical difference between the two-time frames used within this research.’

The perceptions of the current use of trace evidence, UK.

Lucy Watson’s project is ‘based around gathering the current perceptions (and opinions) of the use of trace evidence, from current practitioners and students, within the UK. This was done with the use of a survey, constructed in Qualtrics, and disseminated through LinkedIn, Twitter, and our own schools Blackboard.’

 

 

 

History and International Studies

How the Trauma of the Irish Famine led to support for the Revolutionary IRB

Helen Lee’s research ‘establish[ed] that the Irish Famine of 1845-52 led to social disruption and emotional trauma on a collective scale, [nurturing] significant working-class support for the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood and their fight for Irish independence’. 

Partners or Property – War interpreters and International Organisations

Aida Haughton said, ‘as a former UN war interpreter in Bosnia, I wanted to explore if what I have been through is anything like the experiences of my colleagues and this paper reveals some shocking details. Invisibility, sexual harassment, and traumatic experiences are some of the topics covered.’

The Genocide of the Kurds, the Halabja Massacre and the Anfal Operations

Nayaz Mohammed’s project looked at the suffering and genocide of the Kurs from 1987-1988: ‘It is well established that the Anfal & Halabja massacre was a series of military operations which were authorized by Saddam Hussein from 1987-1988 during the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq War.The goal of these operations was to fully exterminate the Kurds.’

 

 

 

Law

A Critical Analysis of the Crime of Genocide within International Law

Harry Gabell’s project was ‘an analysis of the main legal issues which are faced when considering the crime of genocide, and with international entities such as States or tribunals which are seeking to prevent and prosecute genocidal crimes, using scholarly articles, the Genocide Convention and ICTY and ICTR jurisprudence.’

 
Fairness in Family court should not require equal rights

Salma Hussein’s project aimed to highlight flaws in family court decisions where ‘parental equality rights are given to all fathers regardless of past parenting involvement [and are] designed to perpetuate the traditional concept of a family unit, despite the far-reaching problems caused to separated families.’

 

Policing

Why Children Between the Ages of 13-18 Go Missing from Home

 

Isobel Dove’s project analysed ‘why children between the ages of 13-18 may go missing from home and identified child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation as possible reasons.’

 

 

 

Sociology, Crime and Terrorism

Can bold and self-assured women succeed in Pakistan?

Nafeesa Mirza’s project aim was to ‘present to a wider audience the struggles that women in Pakistan continue to face, [by] analysing the patriarchal society and the Islamic interpretations of how women should be treated [and] exploring case studies of significant individuals’. 

 

Content Analysis of Gender Stereotypes and Gender Roles in LGBTQ+ Films

‘By utilising a qualitative content analysis [Ellie-May Newton] investigated LGBTQ+ films for their use of  gender stereotypes and analyse[d] how those stereotypes can impact the image of the LGBTQ+ community.’

 

 

 

Eurasia’s pivot towards Cyber Attacks, Psy-Ops and Electronic warfare

 

Christian Etheridge’s research paper focused themes of Eurasian unconventional warfare, exploring examples f Cyber Attacks on Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), Information warfare (Psy-Ops) and Electromagnetic Spectrum manipulation within the context of conflict. 

 

 

 

Mentoring Adults in the Criminal Justice System – What are the Benefits?

Katie Price’s project highlights the benefits of mentoring adults who have experienced the criminal system. Katie concludes that ‘mentors aid with the rehabilitation process by supporting ex-offenders to integrate back in to the community following a custodial sentence.’

Law School Newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest from Staffordshire University’s Law School Newsletter (academic year 2020-2021).

Law Newsletter – December 2020

The first newsletter of the academic year was introduced by Paul Allen, Head of Law, and contained information on student well-being over the Christmas break.

 

 

 

 

Law Newsletter – March 2021

The spring newsletter included an interview with the Dean, Dr Helen Poole, and exciting news about students from APIIT Law School (one of our partners) becoming the first Sr Lankan team to compete in the ICC Paris Commercial Mediation Competition.

 

 

 

Law Newsletter – June 2021

The final newsletter of the academic year shares exciting news from a few of our students, as well as advice and information for getting work experience

 

 

 

 

Are you considering taking SULAC as a module during your final year?

Are you a student at Staffordshire University and considering taking SULAC (Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic) as a module during your final year? Emma, a final year Law student shares how choosing the SULAC module has helped develop her confidence and enhance her skills.

I have just completed my final year on the LLB Law at Staffordshire University. During my final year, I undertook SULAC as a module. At the [start] I was very quiet and shy.  

If you are considering a career in practice, whether that be a solicitor or barrister, I would highly recommend SULAC as a module.  

As you already know, in practice you need to communicate with clients, other solicitors, colleagues, judges, barristers and – depending on your field of preference – the jury. You also need to carry out research and draft legal letters. 

During your time in the clinic, you are required to: 

  • Hold interviews with clients,
  • Interact and engage with other students, Tracey, clients and other solicitors and partner organisations. I had an amazing opportunity to work with Woman’s Aid and Lewis Rogers Solicitors.
  • Type up a three day letter and letter of advice
  • Research the area of law relevant to the matter. 

As you can see, you gain and expand upon the skills you need to work in the legal sector, all of which can be mentioned on your CV to make you stand out.  

As previously mentioned, when I first started SULAC I was shy, I hated public speaking and I had no self-[appreciation].  Five or six weeks of clinic [changed that]. Once I put my suit on I felt on top of the world; I spoke publicly, I carried out conflict of interest searches and research tasks confidently and, within a short period of time, I was speaking out in classes. I didn’t fear expressing my opinion or engaging in debates.  

I have an awful lot to thank the clinic and Tracey for. Tracey is so supportive and amazing to work with. It is scary to think that, if I hadn’t participated in clinic, I would have walked out with a degree but no confidence. The clinic will help you in your studies [as well]! I took Family Law as an option module, which is one of the areas of law that clinic helps with. There were times where I had a case for clinic regarding a family law matter and soon afterwards I had a lecture that matched my client’s request.  

As well as working with Lewis Rogers and Woman’s Aid, SULAC gave me [an experience] that I will never forget: the awards evening with the chair of Law Works and the Attorney-General.   

[In] your final year, what you do really does matter, so just remember: 

  • Stay calm
  • Deep breaths
  • The public are turning to you for help, advice and support. People are already looking up to you
  • What you do counts, you are helping the public gain access to legal advice and justice. 
  • Be yourself.
  • Congratulate yourself!
  • Reflect on yourself – I frequently compare how I was in the first year to final year. You will see a huge difference and, believe me, that never goes unnoticed by staff.  
  • Do what feels right for you. 

Finally, I just wanted to say to enjoy your final year: relax (but study) and do what is right for you and your future. A huge well done from me for making it this far.  

Good luck to Emma who is returning in September to complete the LLM in Legal Practice.

 

 

Do you really know where your food comes from and the impact it might have on our environment and UK (United Kingdom) farming?

On International Mother Earth Day, Law Course Director, Sallyann Mellor discusses the impact food marketing has on the planet and UK farming.

When undertaking your weekly shop, do you ever consider where your food comes from and the impact your purchase may have on the environment?  Are you influenced by food branding when making your purchases?

You may be surprised to read that food packaging can be misleading and influence your purchase which in turn negatively affect the environment.

Whilst shopping you may be drawn by the name of a product and the pictures in belief that you are buying a product that is British, however the small print tells you the origin of the product to be somewhere far away from the UK, but do you really know the impact your purchase makes on the environment?

Why is this a problem? It is a problem because it misleads you as a consumer but wider than that is the impact this has on our environment and our UK farmers. 

Lockdown has taught many of us the importance of buying local not only to support our local businesses and the economy but also our local farmers. It gave us the time to really consider where our food came from and the impact on the environment and animal welfare.

UK farmers adhere to strict animal welfare regulations which ensure animal welfare standards are adhered to not only how they are kept on the farm but also how they are cared for during transportation. 

Current Regulations –there are few regulations that specifically state what can and cannot be used as branding images. This means that manufacturers can use misleading branding that influences the consumer to believe that products are from the UK where animal welfare standards are high, when in fact the products origin depicts a different reality.

Environmental Impact-How do we define the word environment and what that means, for some it may mean how we live, the world around us, for others it goes far deeper and encompasses the natural world which is affected by human activity.

Where our food comes from affects the environment in many ways, carbon footprint, climate change, animal welfare and our farming community. If you buy local, you reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact and support our British farmers and our economy.

Carbon Footprints-some products are manufactured in different countries.  We measure carbon footprint by assessing how much carbon is used in the production and transportation of a product. The lower the carbon footprint the better for the environment.

Reducing Food Miles- consider the distance where your item is produced to where it is sold. Where an item is produced may be different to where it is packaged and then sold. For example, strawberries may be produced in Egypt, transported to the UK to be packaged and then transported to supermarket depots for distribution. When taking this into consideration, miles are added to the journey of an item of food, increasing pollution. 

How Does Farming Support the Environment? –It is no surprise that our climate in the UK is most suited to growing grass, in fact 65% of farmland in the UK is best suited to growing grass rather than crops. Farmers are looking at other methods to become more sustainable as a nation but if we did not use the grassland, we would be wasting a natural resource in feeding livestock, which in turn provides us with nutrient rich meat that has not been transported across the world to feed us. Land is protected and cared for by the farmers to support their business but in doing so also supports the habitats of many animals.

Contrary to what you may have read, British beef and lamb is among the most sustainable in the world due to extensive, grass-based systems. Emissions from beef production in the UK are about half the global average, according to the Governments Committee on Climate Change

Emissions are lower than you would think, see the below infographic in part due to sustainable farming solutions.

What can you do? When shopping, closely read the food labels and look beyond the packaging to find the place of origin.  Buying British products will lower carbon footprint and support climate change and our British farming. Look out for the Red Tractor symbol on all products not just the British flag as a product could be packaged in the UK and state it is a UK product when its place of origin is not the UK.

The Red Tractor symbol certifies that high standards have been adhered to and provides traceability from the farm to the plate. You can be sure that when you are buying a product with this symbol that food standards, food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection are protected.

Think about buying fruits and vegetables that are in season and buying from local farmers markets which are increasing in the UK.

Small changes made by us all can make all the difference.

Snooker Stars and the Law

Ahead of the World Snooker Championships, Aidan Flynn, Senior Lecturer in the Law Department, recollects a few instances where noted characters in the world of professional snooker had well publicised interactions with the law.

The World Snooker Championship takes place at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield from the 17th of April to the 3rd of May.  The tournament is part of the government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), one of the events hosting audiences as part of the government’s plan to get big crowds back this summer.

By barfisch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17390498 

Alex Higgins (1949 – 2010), world champion in 1972 and 1982, found himself the defendant in a Magistrates’ Court on a few occasions.  At the 1986 UK Championship, in Preston Guild Hall, tournament director Paul Hatherall was headbutted by Higgins.  The case came before Preston Magistrates’ Court in January 1987 where the incident was described as a “completely unprovoked attack.”  Higgins pleaded guilty and was fined £250 (£200 for assault and £50 for criminal damage to a door).  A decade later he again found himself charged in relation to an assault and in June 1996 was given a conditional discharge at Stockport Magistrates’ Court.  As well as these assault cases, Higgins also appeared at Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court in December 1985.  This related to charges arising from an incident where he threw a television through the glass in a window at his home, Delveron House in Mottram St Andrew, Cheshire.

One of Alex Higgins’ managers was Howard Kruger, a well-known figure in sports management who also worked with 1986 world champion Joe Johnson and Tony Knowles.  Kruger was the subject of proceedings at Brighton County Court in October 1991.  He was disqualified for five years from holding any company directorship.

In 2015 referee Michaela Tabb was involved in a dispute with World Snooker, the body that runs the professional tour.  Tabb brought a case against World Snooker at an employment tribunal in Bristol.  The case was a claim for sex discrimination, unfair dismissal, and breach of contract.  There was an out-of-court settlement and World Snooker issued a statement which stated that “Michaela McInnes (Tabb) and World Snooker Limited have come to a confidential accommodation regarding the claims.”

It is to be hoped that stories for which the 2021 World Championship will be remembered will relate solely to high quality contests in the arena at the Crucible. 

Law Student Becomes Youngest Divisional Equality Forum Representative for Usdaw

Law student Bradley Allmark is the youngest Divisional Equality Forum representative and one of the youngest Tesco Shop Steward Representatives for Usdaw. Bradley explains what the role entails, why he chose to study at Staffordshire University and how this opportunity has given him the ‘drive to work in Employment and Equality Law’.

USDAW Trade Union  

I am the youngest Divisional Equality Forum Representative and one of the youngest Tesco Shop Steward Representatives for Usdaw. I am [also] currently studying the LLB (Hons) Law Degree at Staffordshire University.

NW Divisional Equality Forum Representative/ Tesco Shop Steward Representative

Usdaw is determined to promote equality for all sections of society, both at work and in the community. 

As a Representative, my job is to take instructions and represent members in investigations, disciplinary meetings and other workplace issues. I have now been doing this for eighteen months, after building a strong reputation as a Rep. I put myself forward for the Equality role in August 2020, where I was elected to sit on the Divisional Equality Forum. My extra duties are to run workshops on issues like disability discrimination, women’s health and tackling racism at work. I will be helping to organise local get-togethers and workplace visits to support and encourage activity among the under-involved groups of members. I will also be supporting local events like Pride. [I feel that] being the youngest Representative is one of my biggest achievements.

The reason why I sit on the forum is because I want to help people who are being discriminated against and empower people to be who they are without the fear of being judged. Usdaw is always supporting its members to find new ways to reach out to these groups of members. 

Studying Law  

I grew up in Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent where I attended Stoke Sixth Form College to study BTEC Business and BTEC Law. Whilst at college, I got a part time job working in a Tesco Extra to help me pay for driving lessons and start saving money for university. I have always had an interest in Law and, from leaving high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Law. 

I went around different universities but I wanted to remain local due to personal circumstances at home, so I chose to study at Staffordshire University. During my Open Day, I had a 1-1 tour with one of the lecturers, Louis Martin, and I had a really positive experience.

I liked the fact that the university had a more practical approach to education, and it was one of the top for employability. During my time, I did practical exercises like mooting and giving legal advice with the Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SUALC).

However, I really struggled settling into the degree and my first year at the university I even contemplated leaving and changing courses. My lecturers on the other hand did not want me to leave and believed in me, so they supported me the best way they could. 

During my second year at university, one of the Usdaw Reps at Tesco, where I worked, had a conversation with me and liked what I was doing in my law degree. [She] thought that I would be a great asset to the team, so she helped me to secure a role as a Tesco Trade Union Representative with Usdaw.

Part way through my training, we went into the coronavirus pandemic pushing everything online. However, the opportunities that arose from the pandemic gave me the practical experience I needed to progress. This increased my confidence massively and gave me the motivation and determination to continue the degree, especially under strained circumstances. I am now looking at graduating with a first class Hons. 

Working with the union has given me the passion and drive to work in Employment and Equality Law. My next step is to study the LLM LPC at the University of Law in Birmingham, which I am really excited to study. I am also looking forward to developing my role as a Trade Union Representative and the opportunities and experience that this may bring.  

 

 

 

New Law to Protect Domestic Abuse Victims

Syed Zainul Abedeen Shah (Student)

Domestic Abuse Bill

Several new amendments have been made to the Domestic Abuse Bill which will hopefully provide victims of domestic abuse with more protection and increase punishment for the offenders.

What important changes are being added to the bill?

  • It introduces a new offence of non-fatal-strangulation punishable by up to 5-years in prison. The offence involves an abuser strangling or intentionally affecting the victims breathing. The reason for the new offence is because it is often difficult for a person to be convicted of offences such as actual bodily harm (ABH) as in most cases there is no visible injury (i.e. bruises). 
  • The legislation around ‘controlling or coercive behaviour (CBB) will be strengthened as it no longer requires the victims and abusers to be living together. The amendment acknowledges that people who leave their abusive ex-partners, can still be subjected to controlling or coercive behaviour post-separation. The amendment will also widen the scope of the definition of “personally connected” in a CBB offence, meaning that the offence may apply to former partners and family members who do not live together. 
  • ‘Revenge Porn’ laws were initially introduced in 2015 by the government- but now this piece of legislation will be widened to include threats to disclose private images, with the intention to cause distress.

At Staffordshire University Legal Advice clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice on any domestic abuse related matters. If you would like to book an appointment with us call 01782 294 800 or you can also email us at SULAC@staffs.ac.uk

Renters: Eviction ban in England extended until end of March

Anitha Anton Motham (Student)

It has been stated by housing secretary Robert Jenrick that renters will be protected during this difficult time.  

The eviction ban has been extended until the end of May.  

According to Robert Jenrick the government have taken unprecedented actions in order to help both tenants and landlords.  

However, many charities have also stated that the government have not done enough to support both parties. 

 The extension on the eviction ban ensures that bailiff evictions are banned until 31st May, however there are exceptions that remain in more serious circumstances.  

These include: 

  • Illegal occupation
  • False statements provided by the tenant
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Arrears of 6 months’ rent or more
  • Breach of Immigration rules. 

 Landlords have also been required to give 6 months’ notice period to tenants before any proceedings are started unless the above exceptions apply. There is additional help for renters as the government will distribute Discretionary Housing Payments to councils.  

 If there are any issues between tenants and landlords, then the government has launched a free mediation platform to support both parties and resolve any disputes before it escalates. This will benefit tenants when there are in the early stages of the possession process and may prevent them becoming homeless and find another accommodation. 

Only 548 repossessions were recorded between April and December 2020 compared to 22,444 in the same period in 2019. 

Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic offers free legal advice on all housing issues. If you would like an appointment please call 01782 294458 or email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk

 

Unfair Dismissal

Ayesha Zabir (Student)

 Employment Tribunal numbers are increasing yearly. A report by the Ministry of Justice shows that Employment Tribunal claims increase 26% year on year:

  • There were 27,916 claims between April 2017 to March 2018.
  • There were 35,429 claims between April 2018 to March 2019.

Unfair dismissal claims have increased by 19.97%

Before the Industrial Relations Act 1971, there was no statutory right to protection against unfair dismissal and an employer could dismiss an individual for any reason. The only protections available were established in contract and enforced through the common law. Unfair dismissal is governed by the Employment Rights Act 1996, within this act section 94(1) states ‘An employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed by his employer.’ The Employment Rights Act sets out strict criteria which individuals must satisfy for protection under the Act.

If the criteria are not satisfied, then the individual will not be protected under the Act and their only claim will be contractual. The criteria are:

  1. The individual must have ‘employee’ status

The ‘employee status’ means the individual is an employee and/or a worker and is not self-employed. Only employees have the right to claim unfair dismissal.

  1. They must have two years continuous employment

An employee can challenge an unfair dismissal if they have  worked for the employer for two years or more.

  1. They must have been dismissed

 For a successful unfair dismissal claim, the employee has a duty to demonstrate they have been dismissed. The employee has been dismissed if the employer has done any of the following:

  • Ended the contract of employment (with or without notice)
  • Refused to renew a fixed-term contract
  • Made the employee redundant
  • Stopped the employee from returning to work after maternity leave

Evidence of the dismissal will be required, such as official termination letter, emails and text messages from the employer. The employee has not been dismissed if they are suspended or resigned by choice (unless they are claiming constructive dismissal).

  1. The Employer has not acted reasonably procedurally

This could include following a disciplinary procedure, providing the employee with warnings, rights of appeal etc.

The claim must be made within 3 months of the effective date of termination

An extension in some cases may be granted if the tribunal decides it was not reasonably practicable for the claim to be submitted and the delay was reasonable however these matters are determined on the facts of the case.

Remedies for unfair dismissal –

When a claimant is successful in their unfair dismissal claim there are four possible outcomes, reinstatement, re-engagement, compensation and a declaration that a dismissal was unfair. In a third of these claims, compensation, is the most common outcome.

Reinstatement involves the ex-employee returning to work, with full pay, pension rights and any seniority-related increments honoured. The employee must be treated as they were never dismissed. Re-engagement also involves the ex-employee returning to work, but not necessarily into the same job or on the same terms and conditions. The precise terms of re-engagement vary depending on the case. These two outcomes are very rare in an unfair dismissal claim.

Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) provides free legal advice on all employment matters. We are working remotely during the pandemic and interviews are conducted via Microsoft Teams. If you would like to make an appointment, please contact us on01782 294800 or email us on SULAC@staffs.ac.uk