Monday, 20 June 2011

What is a compromise agreement?

It is regrettable that we are now living in a climate where we are seeing an increase in ‘forced’ terminations of employment  contracts.  Many employers, particularly in the public sector, are looking to reduce staffing levels and to facilitate the termination through compromise agreements.

The concept of a compromise agreement was created in 1993.  It is a document that records an employee’s agreement not to pursue an employment related claim, such as unfair dismissal or breach of contract. The agreement is usually in exchange for a sum of money.

In law the agreement will only be valid if certain conditions are met and in all cases if you are being required to sign a compromise agreement your employer should send you, along with the  draft agreement, to an independent solicitor  for advice.

So why is it so important to seek independent advice?

At MJP when we are instructed to provide advice we run through an established check list to make sure that the agreement you are being required to sign is valid and more importantly fair. 

We will check whether:

the sum offered to you represents a fair compromise

the reason given for termination has any bearing on you income protection scheme if you have one

your contractual entitlements will be protected until the termination comes into effect

you have as part of the compromise received compensation for accrued holiday, notice, and other contractual benefits

 the treatment and timing  of the payment is structured in a way to mitigate your tax liability

there will be help in finding alternative work with the production of a pre-written reference

the restrictive covenants are fair

Who pays for this?

The practice is that the Employer will pay a contribution towards the cost which is in the majority of cases will cover the solicitor’s fee.  In the main therefore it will cost nothing to seek advice.

If you wish to know more or to arrange a FREE consultation with us please call David Pett on 01603877000 or email him at

Posted by David Pett

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Lack of Building Regulations – Why is it such a problem when moving home?

Solicitors should always when a property is to be purchased ask if there has been any alteration made to a property, and whether planning permission and/or building regulations approval has been obtained.  At one time if no enforcement action in relation to building regulation was not taken within 12 months the buyer could proceed without fear of assuming the risk of liability.

However, in the case of Cottingham v Attey Bower & Jones [2000] PNLR 557, a firm of Solicitors were held negligent because they had not adequately investigated whether works had building regulation approval.  The building works required £30,000.00 worth of repairs and the buyer’s Solicitor was held responsible for the cost of this, because it was held that even though no enforcement action had been taken in 12 months it was still open to the Council to apply for an injunction at any time.

Since this case Conveyancers have always erred on the side of caution and ask for a copy of building regulations approval for any works irrespective of when they were undertaken.   The problem they often face is that Councils do not always keep a copy of the building regulation documentation for more than 4 or 5 years.

You may ask why a Council would bother to enforce say after 20 years. Realistically the chance of action is remote, but it is not inconceivable, because if the works   later raise a Health and Safety issue then the Council would probably not hesitate in taking action.

If you are a purchaser with a mortgage the situation is not going to be helped, because lenders are aware of this case, and always ask as a condition of the mortgage for confirmation the building approval has been obtained.  Sometimes a lender can allow the lack of building regulations to go through, if an indemnity policy, that is an insurance policy, is taken out to protect against possible enforcement action.

Insurance can only be obtained however if the Council has not been alerted to the fact of the absence of building regulation approval.  Interestingly therefore it is perhaps best at times for no inquiry to be made with the Council.

No all lenders however accept insurance.  It is down to the solicitor to check with the lender.

Insurance may not always be the answer because if there have been structural alterations undertaken, and there is no building regulation approval, then it is obviously important to make sure that the property is safe.  In those circumstances a structural survey is clearly essential and is likely to be requested by the lender.

So to recap if it’s found out there had been structural alterations, the first step is to ask the seller whether there has been any building approval.  If there is not, then to enquire about insurance, but to also give consideration to whether:-

-       The lender you are borrowing from is prepared to accept insurance.

-       Whether you are in fact prepared to accept this, because you could be buying a house that has structural problems.  Indeed it’s for this reason I always advise that a full survey should be obtained before contracts are exchanged.

Before paying for indemnity insurance please read this article by the same author:  Overuse of indemnity insurance 

By David Pett - 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Rod Stewart announces in Norwich a long awaited return to song writing

Singing his heart out to an eighteen thousand strong crowd at Carrow Road in Norwich last night, Rod Stewart declared that after a writing drought for what seems decades, he is looking to write and record some of his own material.   Stuck in a groove with the American Song Book collection and some other albums of covers, this news will come as a pleasant surprise to fans like myself who have been waiting a very long time for Rod to come up with some original material.   I am sure we can all recall some of the classic Stewart penned songs such as ‘Maggie May’, ‘Stay with Me’ ( sharing the writing bill with old chum and partner in crime Ronnie Wood now with the Rolling Stones) and ‘You are in my Heart’.

So how was the concert? Superb.  Apart from some sound problems at the beginning which always seem to exist at his open air concerts, the gravel and soulful voice was both strong and elegant.   Singing with as much passion as fans like me have come to expect I am sure after 2 hours of ‘hit after hit’  no one in the crowd was left disappointed.  There were a few surprises.  A cover of a blue’s track from a forthcoming but yet to be released album and also a rare outing of ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ taken from the critically acclaimed album of the same name.

The man has soul and despite his ageing years, his enthusiasm and love for music and providing value for those finding the money to come and see him is unremitting. He left the Norwich crowd with smiles on their faces and no doubt a flood of many happy memories generated by his music which for many of his fans has become a soundtrack for their lives.

Rod’s next outing  is at the end of June when he teams up with Stevie Nicks at the Hard Rock Concert In London  - a taster I hope of what was on offer during his recent sell out tour in the USA. 

Review by David Pett - 

Do you lease your flat? Why is it important to consider extending your lease?

If your Flat was built in the 60s 70s or 80s the Lease is probably only for 99 or at most 125 years. A Lease with less than 80 years left to run is always more difficult to sell as mortgage companies will not be keen to lend against them particularly in todays lending climate. What was once a good investment could now developing into a financial burden.

We at MJP have the expertise to advise on Lease Extension or Enfranchisement. For further information and a FREE consultation contact Andrew Skuse on 01603 877000 or email

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Down's Syndrome compensation payment

Sara Westwood, partner and clinical negligence expert with MJP Solicitors, has recently settled a case in the sum of £3,000.00 for a client who is one of a number of ladies affected by the error in Down’s Syndrome screening at a local hospital.

If you have a similar concern or wish for further information please contact Sara Westwood on  01603 877000 or by e-mail at

MJP Solicitors have a specialist team of clinical negligence injury claim experts who offer free legal advice about taking a claim, if you, a friend or relative have been the victim of medical negligence please get in touch with MJP Solicitors to find out what to do next on 01603 877000

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