Reasons for Taking Your Employer to Tribunal

We all want to work in a place that allows us to feel confident and supported in our daily tasks. Yet sometimes issues come up that can affect your ability to work effectively. It is always important to first try and resolve such issues in a civil way. However, this does not always work, and in such cases taking your employer to tribunal is the only option. In this blog, we will discuss some reasons why you might consider taking your employer to tribunal, what you can gain, and tips on how to resolve disputes before they reach this point.

Taking Your Employer to Tribunal

What Is An Employment Tribunal?

An employment tribunal is a judicial body that resolves disputes between employers and employees. An employment judge with at least five years of experience, including legal credentials, will oversee the tribunal. For complex cases, two wing members, one with a trade union background and the other with a background in HR/business, will aid the judge. The aim of the tribunal is to find an unbiased resolution to a dispute when an earlier agreement could not be made.

Reasons to Take Your Employer to Tribunal

If you are planning on taking your employer to tribunal, it may be for any of these reasons:

  • Discrimination based on race, gender, beliefs or any other criteria.
  • Unfair dismissal, such as where the process was not conducted fairly or was a retaliatory act.
  • The employer breaches contract in some way, such as making changes to your role or pay without notice.
  • Changes to your working environment or hours that are also in breach of your contract.
  • Equal pay disputes, particularly where someone with similar duties is being paid more than you.

In the end, any action taken by your employer without consultation and that breaches your agreed contract can be grounds for taking your employer to tribunal.

What Can I Gain From Tribunal?

If the tribunal agrees in your favour, your employer may still work out a settlement with you. However, if neither side can reach a settlement then the tribunal may award you compensation from your employer. Your employer may decide to appeal against this, and if so, the case may go before a higher court called the Employment Appeal Tribunal. If this occurs, it is vital that you get sound legal advice before going forward.

How To Resolve Disputes Before Going To Tribunal

Before taking your employer to tribunal, it is best to try and resolve any disputes in a civil way. Aim to meet with your employer and discuss your issues in a calm and reasoned way. Ensure you have full knowledge of your contract and rights at work. It is also good to have on hand any evidence that supports your claim. If you need it, you may bring someone to support you during the meeting. If these meetings fail to resolve the dispute in a way agreeable to both parties, then you should consider going to tribunal.

At Norton Peskett Solicitors, we can provide you with advice and representation should you have a case before a tribunal. For more details on our employment law advice and fees, contact us online or via phone today.

What Can I Do About a Neighbour Tree Dispute?

One of the most common reasons that you may end up having a dispute with your neighbours is due to issues with trees. Neighbour tree disputes can arise for a number of reasons: perhaps the roots are pushing up your driveway, or the overhanging branches have become a safety risk. In any case, it is helpful for you to know how best to deal with a tree dispute with your neighbours before it turns ugly. Here are some ways a tree dispute may occur, an overview of your rights, and what you can do to resolve an issue.

Neighbour Tree Dispute

Types of Neighbour Tree Disputes

Tree disputes between neighbours often fall under the following categories:

  • The tree, in some way, causes problems and potential damage to the neighbour’s property in its present condition. This includes overhanging branches blocking downpipes, roots that damage drainage pipes, and other such issues.
  • The tree has been neglected and is liable to be a safety risk. Without proper maintenance, the tree or parts of it could fall and cause damage to the neighbour’s property.
  • A neighbour has entered another neighbour’s property without permission and interfered with the tree in some way.

These are the most common form of disputes relating to trees, and it is important to know what your rights are in these cases.

Your Rights In Tree Disputes

Here are some common questions when it comes to a neighbour tree dispute:

Can I cut down my neighbour’s tree?

No, as this would be trespassing unless you have permission. If you cut down a tree on your neighbour’s property, you could end up incurring a large fine.

Can I cut any branches hanging over my property?

In most cases you can trim the overhanging branches up to the property line, so long as you do not harm the tree itself. However, you should check the laws for your area first before pruning.

Can my neighbour force me to cut my tree?

If the tree is entirely on your property, then your neighbour cannot force you to cut it. However, if the tree poses a safety risk, you may be liable if you do not take steps to maintain its safety.

What happens if the tree sits right on the property line?

If the tree sits between two properties then both you and your neighbour are responsible for it. You must both agree in order to remove it, so it is best to settle this amicably.

What Should I Do About Tree Disputes?

When it comes to a neighbour tree dispute, the first thing you should do is research any relevant laws for your area. Being aware of your legal rights is a good tool to have in any dispute. Next, try and meet with your neighbour and discuss the issue politely. If you are unable to reach an agreement, then it is a good idea to seek legal advice going forward.

Here at Norton Peskett Solicitors, we help all clients understand their options when it comes to a range of disputes. We work with you throughout the process to ensure any dispute is resolved with the best possible outcome. To find out more about our services for neighbour disputes, please contact us online or via phone today.

Five Tips for Inheritance Tax Planning

If you intend to leave your estate to your descendants, inheritance planning is essential. If your estate is valuable, the inheritance taxes loved ones may have to pay can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. This can be a devastating blow for those already grieving after someone has passed away. There are ways to mitigate the effects, however, but this will require some careful estate planning.

Clients in East Anglia have been turning to Norton Peskett for legal assistance for over 180 years. Having expanded significantly since the early 1970s, our knowledge and experience is second to none. We’re proud of our integrity and professionalism, and of the service we provide for our clients. Read on for our top five useful tips on inheritance tax (IHT) planning.

Inheritance Planning

How does inheritance tax work?

The money, property and possessions owned by an individual are known as their ‘estate’. Most people wish to leave their estate to their descendants when eventually they pass away. The value of an estate is based on assets such as money in the bank, property, investments, and vehicles. If the value of an estate is below £325,000 there is no tax to pay. Anything above the £325,000 threshold will be taxed at 40%. The following five tips will help you decide on the best form of inheritance tax planning for your estate.

1. Start Planning Early

An estimated 60% of UK adults do not have a Will, but it’s unwise to leave IHT planning until the last minute. The truth is, none of us know when the last minute will be. Topics like death and estate tax are not enjoyable to discuss. But, such discussions form the basis of inheritance planning, and are essential to protect your loved ones.

2. Find out about exemptions

Norton Peskett can offer knowledgeable advice on ways to reduce IHT. For instance, money left to charity won’t count towards the total taxable value of your estate. If your ‘legacy’ amounts to at least 10% of your estate, the IHT rate can be cut to 36%. Owning assets like business property for two years prior to death can also bring significant benefits.

3. Assets placed in trust

With the right plan, estate assets placed in trust can be exempt from inheritance taxes. A trust can also offer some control over how the money is used after your death. Some types of trust are subject to additional IHT charges, so make sure you seek expert advice.

4. Lifetime gifts

Another method of inheritance planning is to make a lifetime gift to someone, which could be exempt from IHT. If you live for seven years after making the gift, it will be deemed to be outside of your estate. Consequently, it will not be affected by inheritance taxes.

5. Insurance can be a good policy

A number of insurance policies are available that can mitigate the effects of IHT. Some can offer additional control over how your heirs use their inheritance. Some can be combined with trusts to pay a lifetime income. What remains to be passed on then falls outside of the IHT estate.

For more information or expert advice on inheritance and tax planning, contact Norton Peskett Solicitors today.

Divorce and Property: Your Questions Answered

Getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership can be a troubling time. Grappling with the financial side of a legal separation can prove particularly confusing. Everyone’s circumstances are different and will be considered on their own merit when seeking legal advice – this is why legal advice is important! When it comes to divorce and property questions, you will want straight-forward answers. Some of the most important questions surround the protection of property ownerships rights. You may also have questions about mortgage payments and moving with your children. This article hopes to clear the fog around some of the most common divorce questions. An understanding of divorce law and property ties will help you find a firm footing.

Divorce and Property

Divorce and Your Property Ownership Rights

If your ex-partner holds the family home in their name alone, it is important to register your interest in the property to protect your position during a legal separation. In England or Wales, this is possible if the property is registered at the Land Registry. With your partner’s name and the property’s title number you will be able to check if the property is in the Land Registry. From here, you can fill out a free application for registration of a ‘Notice of home rights,’ or HR1 form. This will allow you to register your interest in the property. If the property is not in the Land Registry, for a £1 fee you can apply instead through a ‘Class F Land Charge.’ When you register your interest, your partner will not be able to sell the property or get a larger mortgage without you being notified.

For jointly owned properties, partners may wish to change their ownership from a joint tenancy into a ‘tenants in common’ arrangement. This way you can divide ownership. Each partner is free to pass on their share of the property to whomever they please in their Will. This is different to a joint tenancy, in which one tenant inherits the share of the other tenant upon the other tenant’s death, regardless of any Will. You can change your type of joint ownership with an SEV form. This change does not require the ex-partners agreement.

Mortgages and Moving after Legal Separation

The welfare of children is the most important consideration in any divorce, and children’s accommodation and requirements will factor into decisions about the fate of a shared home. A sale of the house may be considered if the house is seen to exceed the child or children’s needs. In navigating the world of divorce and property, you may well benefit from the help of experienced family court solicitors.

Many couples who are separating but share a joint mortgage will attempt to move the mortgage into the name of one partner. This has an array of benefits. The person who takes on the mortgage is no longer dependent on the partner. The partner who relinquishes the mortgage can borrow more money for themselves. This will also help the couple separate their credit files from one another, so that the financial decisions of one partner no longer affects the credit file of the other. Taking this action will require proving to the mortgage lender that one partner can afford the payments on their own.

If you require advice or legal assistance with any aspect of property or family law or, contact Norton Peskett today.

Everything You Need To Know About Settlement Agreements

A redundancy settlement agreement is an important document. But what does it actually do? These challenging times have badly affected job security across a number of industries. Redundancies have become increasingly common. However, receiving compensation for losing your job can be a complicated process. Now more than ever, people need to know who they can turn to for help.

Here at Norton Peskett Solicitors we have a wealth of knowledge and experience in employment law. We can guide you through the legalities of a settlement agreement. That way the outcome is the best result for you personally. Read on to learn more about what a redundancy settlement agreement means.

What is a settlement agreement?

Settlement agreements are legally binding contracts between employers, and employees who have been made redundant. Different agreements will vary in detail. In short, it is a promise not to make a claim against your employer. This is generally in exchange for a negotiated amount in compensation. By law you must get independent legal advice on a settlement agreement. If you don’t, it will not be legally binding. This advice will also help you to decide if the agreement is a good one or not. For example, it may be better to make a claim if you’ve been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against.

What are the benefits to signing a settlement agreement?

When an employer makes staff redundant, they have to go through a consultation process with workers who have lost their jobs. This can be complicated, unpleasant and time-consuming. A settlement agreement can help to make this process quicker and less stressful. When a redundancy is fair, an employer is generally not required to pay any more than statutory redundancy. By negotiating an agreement, employees could receive a more generous pay out. When you negotiate a redundancy settlement agreement you can also ask for a protected conversation. This means that your words cannot be used as evidence if there is a dispute in the future.

What rights do I have?

If you are offered a settlement agreement you have a right to independent legal advice. Taking advice will help you decide whether or not the agreement is the best option for you. It will help you understand the terms of the agreement and how it might affect you going forward. You have a right to a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to consider the pros and cons of the agreement. ACAS guidance states that employees should be allowed ten calendar days for this. If you feel the offer is unfair, you have the right to refuse to sign the agreement. However, you may risk receiving only statutory redundancy pay.

What rights do I lose?

Your employer may have agreed to help with legal fees, but only if you sign the agreement. That could also be an issue. If you sign the agreement, you will lose your right to statutory redundancy pay. A confidentially clause may also prevent you from speaking out about your employer.

Norton Peskett Solicitors are ready to help. Contact us for more information or advice.

Guidance For Landlords During Covid-19

Protected tenancy

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on protected tenancy regulations. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, there have been changes to Government advice on areas such as rent payments and repairs. Here at Norton Peskett, we’re keeping a close eye on the new guidelines. Read on to learn more about how the new regulations may affect you.

Protected Tenancy

Rent payments

Tenants must continue to pay rent and abide by their tenancy agreements during the current emergency. However, landlords should try and offer “support and understanding” to tenants if their income has been affected by the pandemic. An early discussion is a good idea so that you can work out a strategy with the tenant. You could accept a lower rent payment on the protected tenancy. (In this situation, you will not have to repay part of the deposit immediately). Another solution is to allow the tenant to stay in the property for an agreed period of time. You could then agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may need a third party to mediate.

Mortgage repayments

You may have been affected by Coronavirus yourself. If you have not had a mortgage repayment holiday yet, you will be entitled to a 6-month holiday. If you have started a mortgage payment holiday already, you will be able to top up to 6-months. This will not be recorded on your credit file. If you are concerned about your financial situation, you should contact your lender to discuss the options available to you.

Tenants leaving early

If a tenant wants to leave a property early, they may not be able to give the required notice. The Government is asking landlords to be flexible in these circumstances. Your tenant should pay rent for all of the agreed term, but you may be able to find a new tenant quickly. In this scenario, you would not lose out if you agreed to end the contract early. If a tenant wants to leave early you can also charge them a fee. This should not be more than the loss you incur, or reasonable costs to your letting agent.

Repairs and inspections

Both landlords and tenants benefit from properties that are well kept and free from hazards. Repairs and safety inspections can still be carried out under the national restrictions. But, they must be done in line with public health advice and Coronavirus legislation. Landlords can carry out repairs in households with vulnerable tenants if it is permitted by local Covid rules. You should observe social distancing and hygiene procedures at all times. You can also carry out work on empty premises to prepare them for new tenants.

House viewings

House viewings can still take place under national restrictions. Again, you should take into account public health advice and any relevant Covid legislation. In the first place, virtual viewings are being recommended by Government to help keep people safe. You should delay physical viewings if anyone involved is showing Covid symptoms or is self-isolating.

If you are a landlord concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on your business, contact Norton Peskett Solicitors for more information or advice.

Fair Redundancy: What Are Your Employee Redundancy Rights

If you’re facing redundancy it’s important to keep in mind your many employee redundancy rights. These rights ensure the fair treatment of employees faced with redundancy. Employers must act in accordance with these legal and contractual rules, or risk accusations of unfair dismissal. A redundancy is a dismissal that occurs as part of the reduction of the employer’s workforce. An employee faced with redundancy will be eligible for a variety of things: from redundancy pay to a consultation. If an employer fails to live up to their legal duties during the dismissal process, the employee may be able to claim unfair dismissal.

Employee Redundancy Rights - Norton Peskett

Employee Redundancy Rights in the UK

Once an employer tells an employee about their approaching redundancy, the employee has a right to a redundancy consultation. This consultation is the employer’s chance to clearly explain to the employee the grounds for their role’s redundancy. The employee can use this consultation to explore if there are any alternatives to the dismissal. If your employer does not provide enough time for a consultation, or no consultation at all, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal. The best way employers and employees can come to some understanding about the redundancy decision is through this consultation. With more consultation time to hand, employee and employer can discuss more options and come to a greater understanding.

As well as a consultation, a redundant employee will be able to collect statutory redundancy pay as part of their dismissal. This pay is the bare minimum a company owes a redundant employee; a job contract may well specify more pay. Any employee with over 2 years of service can receive this pay. The worker’s weekly salary will decide the pay rate. Similarly, an employee’s notice period gets longer with each year of service. The minimum notice period is one week for any employee who has worked in their role for over one month. However, the longest standard notice period is 12 weeks.

Support in Finding a New Job

Importantly, redundancy is a result of a job role disappearing, rather than an employee’s behaviour. Therefore, an employer must have grounds for the redundancy of the position. Neither can an employer discriminate based on age, race, or gender. Because a redundancy involves the end of a role within the company, an employer might offer ‘suitable alternative employment’ within the company or a partner company. Whether this new job is suitable depends on its similarity to the old role: the status, skills used, and pay. If an employer has a suitable alternative role but fails to offer it, this may be grounds for a case of unfair dismissal.

As well as this, those employed for over 2 years by the end of their notice period may be owed time off for job hunting. The maximum an employer will have to pay is 40% of a week’s pay. Employees can use this time to pursue a new job or new training opportunities.

Generally speaking, most employers handle redundancies professionally with due care given to an employees’ rights. However, if you believe your employer has treated you unfairly, we can help. For friendly and fast advice on all aspects of employment law contact Norton Peskett today.

Boundary Disputes with Neighbours: What You Need To Know

Although we all aim to get along with our neighbours, disputes can still occur from time to time. Some of these disagreements can be minor while others could require legal intervention. Boundary disputes with neighbours are common situations, so it is wise to take a look at relevant information in order to clarify any confusion that might otherwise exist.

What is a Boundary Dispute?

This type of dispute will normally arise around the borders of your property. They often involve issues such as where a wall happens to be placed, the location of a new fence that has just been installed or who is responsible for maintaining a specific piece of land. The main issue is that some of these boundary disputes with neighbours can evolve into heated arguments, so they are best dealt with sooner as opposed to later.

How Can Neighbour Disputes be Avoided?

It is always best to take a proactive stance. For example, make it a point to inform your neighbour if you are planning a project (such as constructing a stockade fence) along the border of his or her property. The same holds true for other maintenance tasks if these have not occurred in the past. If you adopt this sense of transparency, the chances of a dispute occurring will be dramatically reduced. To put it simply, communication is key.

Resolving a Neighbour Dispute

Keep in mind that in most cases, these disputes are simply nothing more than miscommunications. This is why it is important to understand your neighbour’s perspective. Speak calmly in order to keep tension levels at a minimum. It could also be a good idea to involve a third party (such as a mutual friend) to appreciate both sides of the story. The chances are high that both you and your neighbour will be able to come to some sort of agreement. If this is still not possible, it is wise to contact professional dispute resolution solicitors.

A Quick Look at Determining Boundaries

The first step is to consult the title plans of your property. These can be obtained through the Land Registry. Your deed as well as the documents of your neighbour should both be examined. However, keep in mind that some boundaries might not be entirely clear. This is why it is also wise to examine any pre-registration deeds that may be available. You may be able to find the document that was initially created when the boundaries were established. However, this can be tricky if you happen to share an extremely old property.

We can see that some boundary disputes with neighbours are not always straightforward. If you have come to an impasse, it is a good idea to contact our team at Norton Peskett Solicitors. We will be more than happy to analyse the situation to solve the problem at hand. After all, there is no reason why neighbours should argue over an issue that can normally be resolved.

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