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Data Protection & Employment

Data Protection & Employment

Employment law and protection breaches

Due to recent updates in Data Protection legislation, Data controllers are subject to increasingly stringent requirements and, potentially greater penalties by the Information Commissioner.
Data Controllers must now notify, the Information Commissioner within 72 hours of any data breach concerning personal data held by them, this means that employers need to give due consideration to who the Data Controller at the organisation is and they need to set up a contingency and reporting structure.
Employers are obligated to take a workplace data protection breach seriously. With legal and reputational risks increasing, employers may be tempted to discipline their workers for a breach, where liability can be proved and treat them as gross misconduct. This would allow the employer to dismiss without notice or pay in lieu of notice where such a breach is proven, providing that systems,
processes and training were in place at the time of the breach.

Preventing employee data breach

Employers should now be concentrating their efforts on prevention rather than cure when it comes to employee data handling and storage. This can be achieved by ensuring regular and dedicated training for relevant staff about legislation such as GDPR, and putting in place clear and properly communicated policies.
Employees need a very clear understanding of their obligations and responsibilities and business leaders should treat this area with the same
importance as Health & Safety. Companies should audit their Data security regularly and stress test their systems to ensure compliance with the law. They should also ensure that any 3 rd party agreements to share data are drafted in line with best practice.

Penalties for breach of data protection rules

The ICO has the power to impose exceptionally large fines in respect of the breach of data protection law as well as the right to issue enforcement notices restricting data use.
There are two tiers of penalty, with the maximum payable in the standard tier £8.7 million or 2% of annual turnover, whichever is higher. In the higher tier, the maximum payable is £17.5 million or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is higher.
Audit and information notices may also be issued, with a view to investigating any possible legal infringement.

Our data protection legal services

If your business is being investigated by the ICO, we will advise and guide you through the process, ensuring that your rights are upheld, and that the organisation does not exceed its authority.
In the event that you are required to provide information under a search order, information notice or assessment notice, we will ensure that only the requested information is provided and that we have details of exactly what has been copied so that we have a good understanding of the direction of the investigation.
If the ICO is considering criminal proceedings against you or your organisation, we will provide a robust defence, to include attending interviews under caution with you and representing you in court proceedings.
We can also represent you in respect of civil proceedings brought by a member of the public in respect of an alleged breach of their data protection rights.
If your business identifies a data breach, we can advise you in respect of the correct notification procedure and manage the process to ensure that all obligations are complied with.

Contact us

Dealing with data protection matters is often complex and a breach can have far- reaching consequences for both the operation of your business and your reputation. We can intervene early on your behalf to minimise the damage caused and guide you through any investigation process.
We have an excellent track record of success in working with clients in respect of data protection investigations and litigation, with expert civil and criminal defence solicitors in Middlesbrough, Leeds and London who can step in immediately to advise and represent you.
For an initial discussion, ring us on 0113 532 8100 (Leeds), 01642 221 108 (Middlesbrough) or 0203 780 7646 (London) or fill in our Contact Form.

Solicitors in Middlesbrough Move To new Offices

Solicitors in Middlesbrough Move To new Offices

Taylor Law have moved their head office operations to Unit 5, Roseberry Court, Stokesley Business Centre, Stokesley, Middlesbrough TS9 5QT.

Our new offices are located at Stokesley Business Centre which is based in the historical market town centre of Stokesley, situated on the Georgian High Street in a grade ll listed building.

The move allows us to be flexible to the needs of our clients, offering free parking and good travel links from all parts of the county.

The new office forms part of Taylor Law’s strategic growth plan and will facilitate access to a wider service portfolio over the coming period, whilst retaining the local base required by our valued client base.

Contact us
We have solicitors in Middlesbrough, Leeds and London who are experts in the field. If you are the subject of an investigation or allegations of a sexual nature have been made against you, ring us on 0113 532 8100 (Leeds), 01642 221 108 (Middlesbrough) or 0203 780 7646 (London) or fill in our Contact Form.

 

Public Liability Solicitors in Middlesbrough

Public Liability Solicitors in Middlesbrough

Public Liability Claims Explained

Public liability and occupiers’ liability claims are very similar in nature and there is often some cross-over in relation to the law that is applied to them.

The most common types of claims are:
Trips or falls on public roads and pavements
Trips or falls in public parks and other public amenity areas
Accidents that occur in shops
Accidents that occur in privately owned buildings or land e.g. shopping centres
Accidents that occur in private properties
Other claims against the Local Authorities

Claims for trips or falls in public areas are generally difficult to pursue. It is therefore important that if such an accident occurs, photographs of the defective area are taken as soon as possible. Additionally, claims are substantially aided if photographs clearly showing measurements of the defect are also taken. You should also ensure that you report the accident as soon as possible to the relevant authority after you have taken the photos and measurements.
The most common defence used by Local Authorities is that they have implemented a reasonable system of inspection and repair. I.e. they only have to show that they inspected the area on a regular basis and that they undertook repairs within a reasonable timescale after they received reports about them. The mere presence of a pothole, for example, does not mean that the Local Authority has been negligent.
This does not mean that all claims will automatically fail though and it is therefore important to gather as much evidence of the defective area as quickly as you can.

Claims against privately owned buildings or land

Claims for accidents in shops and shopping centres for example are slightly easier to prove than those against Local Authorities.
At Taylor Law, we deal with plenty of claims against supermarkets, shops and shopping centres, where injuries occur regularly due to liquid spills or items being on the floor of the premises.

Footfall in shops and shopping centres is usually significantly higher than on a public footpath. Therefore, the onus on the Defendant owner or occupier of the premises to inspect the area and rectify defects and remove obstructions is much higher.
In order to successfully defend a claim, the Defendant must be able to show that it has effective risk assessments, a good system of inspection and a good cleaning policy and that it had implemented the same on the day of the accident.

As above it is important that you take photographs and measurements of the defect, spillage or cause of your accident as soon as possible. You will also need to ensure that you report the accident as soon as you are able to do so. It will aid a claim if accurate details of the accident are reported at the time.
At Taylor Law we offer in-depth expertise and pragmatic advice. If you are involved in a public liability case, we will provide strong guidance and representation and work with you to resolve the issue without delay.

Taking legal advice early on as soon as the situation arises offers the best chance of quick resolution and is important to ensure that any evidence such as CCTV can be preserved.
We have offices in Leeds, Middlesbrough and London. For an initial discussion, ring us on 0113 532 8100 (Leeds), 01642 221 108 (Middlesbrough) or 0203 780 7646 (London) or fill in our Contact Form.

Motoring Offences – The Exceptional Hardship Defence

Motoring Offences – The Exceptional Hardship Defence

Exceptional Hardship and what it means if there is a danger you are likely to reach the 12 point limit on your driving license.

Is it correct that any driver facing the imposition of 12 penalty points upon their driving licence will be subject to a mandatory 6 month disqualification from driving?

The answer is no, not in all circumstances. If you argue and persuade the Court that a 6-month driving ban will cause ‘exceptional hardship’ to you or any other person, you may avoid a ban.

Whilst it can be argued that any order of disqualification from driving will entail hardship for the person who is disqualified, the hardship must be ‘exceptional’ to persuade the Court, and it in this area that Taylor Law can help.

There is no specific legal definition of what may amount to exceptional hardship. Each case will turn on its own particular facts and the personal circumstances of the individual driver. For example, loss of employment will undoubtedly cause some hardship for anyone, but whether that amounts to ‘exceptional hardship’ will depend on a number of factors, including financial circumstances and family support, to name a few. The correct presentation of an exceptional hardship argument is therefore vital to increase the chances of retaining your driving licence, however you should be aware that it will still be endorsed with 12 penalty points,

Hardship can often be caused to wholly innocent individuals other than the driver and licence holder. Case law provides that the Court should take more account of hardship caused to innocent parties such as family members and employees, than to the offender. Proving the nature and extent of the hardship caused to others is often where the argument lies. We have also successfully argued that ‘exceptional’ hardship can be suffered by employers if your work is so specialised that your company will suffer if it is not possible to find a replacement, and thereby vulnerable customers, clients, students, will all suffer without your professional skills.

Any argument that a driver should not be disqualified because of exceptional hardship must be supported by evidence presented to the Court. The defendant will almost always be required to give evidence in Court, and to call evidence to support their case. The process of gathering and preparing the right evidence to support an application is therefore paramount to the success of any case in court.

Where exceptional hardship is found, the Court is not likely to disqualify, but does have the power to reduce the 6-month disqualification period to a lower period.

Taylor Law has expert motoring solicitors on hand to advise upon the strength of your exceptional hardship argument, help prepare the case, and represent you in court. Our preparation and presentation of the evidence and advocacy to the Court have often been the difference between a 6-month driving ban and retaining a driving licence.

We pride ourselves in our 100% success rate based on all exceptional hardship arguments put forward to local courts in the last 12 months.  ^accurate to 31-3-22

At Taylor Law we offer in-depth expertise and pragmatic advice. If you are involved in a motoring offence case, we will provide strong guidance and representation and work with you to resolve the issue without delay.

Taking legal advice early on as soon as the situation arises can mitigate problems and offers the best chance of quick resolution. If you would like to discuss allegations against you, we would be happy to hear from you.

We have offices in Leeds, Middlesbrough and London. For an initial discussion, ring us on 0113 532 8100 (Leeds), 01642 221 108 (Middlesbrough) or 0203 780 7646 (London) or fill in our Contact Form.

Unfair Dismissal & Employee Rights

Unfair Dismissal & Employee Rights

Unfair Dismissal & Employee Rights

Unfair dismissal claims are one of the more common claims brought before the Employment Tribunal. It is important that businesses understand what they need to do to limit their exposure to this type of claim.

Employers should be aware that a dismissal can arise in several ways, for example through termination by the employer, by the ending of a fixed-term contract, or by constructive dismissal.

Employees have the right to claim unfair dismissal. Self-employed people and ‘workers’ are unable to claim unfair dismissal, though other claims may be available to them. An employee needs to have more than two years’ service to gain the legal protections to bring a ‘unfair’ dismissal claim.

Employers should also be aware that dismissals for certain reasons are automatically unfair, and employees would not need to have been employed for two years or more to pursue these types of claim.

Constructive Dismissal

An employee is constructively dismissed if they resign from their employment because of the employer’s intolerable conduct. There is a constructive dismissal when the following occurs:

  • There is a very serious breach by the employer of the express or implied terms of the employment contract
  • The employee resigns in response to that breach
  • The employee does not delay unreasonably before resigning (otherwise the employee might lose their right to claim constructive dismissal)
  • For example, if an employer fails to pay an employee (a key contractual requirement) the employee may be able to resign but allege that the resignation should be seen by the tribunal as a dismissal.

Constructive dismissals are often alleged in response to workplace bullying allegations, where the employee feels that the employer’s behaviour has been intolerable.

A constructive dismissal is not always an unfair dismissal. The tribunal will look at the employer’s conduct and decide whether it acted fairly, despite having breached the contract.

What is a Fair Dismissal?

A dismissal is “fair” if the employer shows that the reason for the dismissal was one of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal and that the dismissal was managed in a reasonable way. The employer must demonstrate the reason for the dismissal during a tribunal.

Determining if a Dismissal is Reasonable

Once the employer has established a potentially fair reason for the dismissal, the tribunal must then consider if the employer acted reasonably in dismissing the employee for that reason.

This aspect of fairness is usually divided into two parts:

  • Did the employer follow a fair procedure?
  • Did the employer act reasonably in treating the reason as a sufficient reason for dismissal?

As a starting point an employer will need to do to be able to demonstrate that it had applied the following:

  • Investigating the issues or allegations thoroughly
  • Making sure that the employee is aware that they are at risk of dismissal and why
  • Allowing them to argue their case
  • Allowing them to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative
  • Allowing a right of appeal

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures provides important guidance for dismissing an employee. Tribunals must take this guidance into account when deciding whether an employer has acted reasonably; in other words, if the employer follows the ACAS Code, they are more likely to be found to have been acting reasonably.

These guidelines can also affect the amount of compensation due, as tribunals have the power to increase or decrease a compensatory award by up to 25% for a party’s unreasonable failure to comply with the code.

The code states that an employer considering a case of alleged misconduct or poor performance should:

  • Investigate the issues
  • Inform the employee of the issues in writing
  • Conduct a disciplinary hearing or meeting with the employee
  • Inform the employee of the decision in writing and include a right of appeal
  • The ACAS Code recommends the following steps when conducting a disciplinary hearing:
  • Employers should explain the complaint against the employee and go through the evidence that has been gathered
  • Employees should be given a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence, and call relevant witnesses

The Employment Tribunal must decide whether the employer’s decision to dismiss the employee fell within the range of responses that a reasonable employer in those circumstances and in that business might have adopted. In other words, the tribunal will only consider whether another reasonable employer faced with the same set of circumstances would have also made the same decision to dismiss. It is irrelevant whether the tribunal would have dismissed the employee if it had been in the employer’s shoes: the tribunal must not substitute its view for that of the employer.

Automatically Unfair Dismissals

In certain circumstances, a dismissal is automatically unfair. These include:

  • Reasons connected to pregnancy or childbirth
  • Health and safety activities
  • Whistleblowing
  • Exercising various time off rights
  • Asserting a statutory right (for example the right to take annual leave)

The employee is protected from dismissal for these reasons from their first day of employment. Employers should also be aware that there is no upper limit on compensation for these types of claims, so they could become very expensive. Therefore, it is a good idea for employers to follow at least a partially formal dismissal procedure in line with the ACAS Code, even where employees do not have two years’ service, as employees may pursue an automatic unfair dismissal claim.

If the employer has documented the reasons for their dismissal, for instance using a document management system, they will find it far easier to defend such a claim.

Taylor Law Legal Services for Employers

We offer a full range of legal services for employers, for both contentious and non contentious issues, including the following:

Whistleblowing

Discrimination, harassment, bullying

Grievances

Employment Tribunal claims

Holiday pay, maternity and flexible working

Settlement agreements

Sickness, absence and disability

Unfair dismissal

Wages and deductions

Confidentiality and restrictive covenants

Disciplinary and suspension

Contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you with your employment needs, we would be happy to hear from you. Time is often crucial in dealing with a contentious employee matter, and it is therefore advisable to seek legal advice as soon as you are aware of an issue arising. We have solicitors in Middlesbrough, Leeds and London.

For an initial discussion, call us on 0113 532 8100 (Leeds), 01642 221 108 (Middlesbrough) or 0203780 7646 (London) or fill in our Contact Form.

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