Latest News

  • Congratulations to Ayesha!
    Tue, 07/24/2018 - 15:56

    FRU is pleased to congratulate our office administrator and receptionist Ayesha Taranum for graduating in English from Kings College London yesterday. Ayesha’s graduation was witnessed by her proud family members. Well done Ayesha from everyone at FRU.

  • Former Attorney General visits FRU
    Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:39

    FRU was pleased to welcome Lord Peter Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, to our offices today.

    Lord Goldsmith is a well-known advocate of legal pro bono work, having been awarded the Lifetime Award for Extraordinary Contribution to the Development of Pro Bono Culture in Europe in 2014. He agreed to visit FRU to find out more about our work in representing clients in social security and employment tribunals and providing clinical legal education. Lord Goldsmith spent the morning touring the FRU office and speaking to staff and trustees.

    Principal Legal Officer Emma Baldwin said “it was a pleasure to welcome Lord Goldsmith to FRU today. He was very interested in the issues facing FRU’s clients, in how FRU works and in our plans for the future.”

  • FRU welcomes Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals
    Wed, 06/27/2018 - 15:45

    FRU was delighted to welcome a visit today by Sir Ernest Ryder, the Senior President of Tribunals. Sir Ernest had expressed an interest in hearing about FRU’s work representing clients in social security and employment tribunals and in providing clinical legal education to future lawyers.

    Sir Ernest spent the morning touring the FRU office, speaking to staff, volunteer representatives and a management committee member and trustee. He heard in detail how FRU works including the management of casework, the training of prospective lawyers and how we feed in our clients’ experiences of the tribunal system to policy makers. Sir Ernest was keen to hear what currently works well and where there are issues that the tribunal judiciary could address.

    During the visit Sir Ernest highlighted the value to the tribunal system of high quality advocacy. He spoke of being aware of FRU’s work through his own experience, that of judicial colleagues and contacts throughout the justice system. Sir Ernest underlined the value to young lawyers of clinical legal education through taking on real cases. He particularly encouraged FRU representatives to take on a range of cases to broaden their skill base.

    FRU Chief Executive David Abbott said “it was an honour and a pleasure to welcome Lord Justice Ryder to FRU. Sir Ernest was very interested in and supportive of FRU’s work. He expressed a genuine desire for feedback on how tribunals currently operate and how the judiciary can ensure that future developments take into account the work of pro bono organisations such as FRU. Sir Ernest’s recognition of the value of the work of our staff and volunteers was a great morale boost”.

  • FRU explains the benefits of pro bono to potential volunteers
    Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:29

    We were pleased to be invited to the Middle Temple Hall for the Jobs and Opportunities Fair on 19 June. FRU Assistant Legal Officers Verity Bell and Josh Yetman spoke to all those who attended to explain the benefits of doing pro bono advocacy. FRU volunteers provide an essential service to our clients, who would not be represented in their employment or social security tribunal without us. Our volunteers receive high quality training and support which is proven to help them to develop their legal career.

  • FRU makes submission on ‘scandalously low’ level of employment tribunal awards compliance
    Wed, 06/13/2018 - 15:46

    FRU was invited to make a submission to the Dept. for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy consultation on recommendations arising from the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.

    Based on our experience of representing clients in around 200 employment cases each year we made the following points:

    ·         There are particular barriers to enforcement of sick pay and for annual leave because problems generally occur while workers are still employed. Workers will often be concerned that if they make trouble for their employer they may be dismissed, receive less work or be punished in some other way. Workers are also discouraged by the disproportionate nature of the enforcement mechanisms, particularly where the sums involved are relatively small.

    ·         There are advantages to businesses from moving towards state enforcement of such contractual payments;

    ü  Workers are likely to be emotionally involved and, in many cases, under informed about the relevant law, enforcement officials are likely to have a better understanding of the relevant law, as well as having experience of dealing with employers in these circumstances. This is likely to make disputes, particularly straightforward ones, easier, quicker and cheaper to resolve.

    ü  The fact that state enforcement can apply to many workers at the same time is also a potential advantage for employers. It is much easier and more efficient to have a single point of contact that can solve an issue for multiple workers, than attempt to deal with each worker individually.

    ü  There will also be a potential advantage for those employers who comply with the law through the creation of a level playing field, in that they will be less likely to face unfair competition from employers who fail to comply with their duties.

    ·         Funding of employment law advice and tribunal representation would make a substantial difference. In their absence, the government should avoid creating barriers to claimants accessing the tribunal. This is important both for directly enforcing these rights. But it also gives some assurance that, if workers are mistreated because they try to enforce their rights, they have access to some recourse.

    ·         It should also be noted that many workers who experience these issues do not know about the existing state enforcement mechanisms. Greater efforts to publicise those mechanisms is likely to increase reporting.

    ·         There is a scandalously low rate of compliance with tribunal awards, which fundamentally undermines the efficacy of the employment tribunal process. The existing system for enforcement generally is too complex, opaque and relies on being driven by the claimant, rather than by robust case management in the same way as the rest of litigation. There is little point in having well-developed arrangements to adjudicate on employment rights if tribunal awards so frequently end up unpaid. It is particularly unfortunate that all of this occurs at the conclusion of the tribunal litigation. Many claimants simply drop out because they cannot face starting a new litigation process.

    ·         A modern enforcement system would resemble a modern litigation process. Once failure to pay had been registered, someone — either a judge or quasi-judicial official — would take responsibility for the enforcement process and case manage it. Parties would have the opportunity to provide information and make submissions, but decisions would made about how the process would progress. And, where one approach failed, others would be tried. If ultimately, an award could not be enforced the process would lead into insolvency proceedings against the employer if appropriate (as well as an application for payments to be made in favour of the worker by the Insolvency Service under the guaranteed payments scheme in appropriate cases).

    ·         It would be useful for the tribunals to have sufficient power to resolve the comparatively straightforward issues that may already be apparent at the point that the tribunal is dealing with the case. For example, it is common for smaller employers to have issues with paying an award immediately for reasons of cash flow. In practice, as is sensible, a court will allow them time to pay by instalments and this is also in the best interests of the claimant. It would be much simpler, cheaper and easier if this could be ordered by a tribunal at the remedies hearing, rather than requiring separate proceedings.