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Solicitor letter demanding money, advice needed so I can organise a response.(47 Posts)
Thank you in advance to any replies.
My DH was dismissed from his job for a number of allegations made by his employer, he is challenging this decision via an employment tribunal. One of the matters was escalated to the police and is ongoing (DH was out of the country and has not committed any offence, the allegation includes a historic period which is proving lengthy to investigate).
In his position he was responsible for booking in orders and carrying out works, the company advised the management that they were closing the business and ceasing to trade and no further orders were to be taken. My DH was contacted by a potential customer and he advised the order could not be taken as the company were closing, they requested an alternative supplier and he provided them with a local company who were qualified to carry out the order.
A letter has now arrived from his ex employers solicitors demanding payment of the potential contract value by 31st December or they will commence court proceedings without further notice. They state his decision to pass the work over was detrimental to the company and he breached contract in doing so (not sure which contract they refer to as he didn’t have an employment contract). This was not the only contract that was declined by management due to company closure yet they are only pursuing DH for losses.
What would people advise we do next? We already have legal costs ongoing because of the employment tribunal and it isn’t an endless pot as DH has been out of work since his dismissal. Can the CAB help? We have a young family and this is sucking the life out of us as has been ongoing for a few months and with Christmas around the corner it feels as though the timing is not a coincidence.
Is there something in writing proving that the management told staff not to take new orders?
I would say he needs to document any conversations/emails he had referring to the instruction that he was not to accept any new work. Dates and names will be key here.
I'm no expert in this but surely if he can prove the company were closing down then he would be have been right to have turned down the work if it could not have been completed.
Also he needs to ask for a copy of his contract which presumably they won't be able to provide.
He has a letter which was issued to the staff advising of the date the company were ceasing trading. The ‘prospective contract’ (as they have termed it) was for after this date.
Do they realise he has a copy of this letter? If not, they need to find out. Would the potential contract have been for so much money it would have saved the company from going under?
Ignore it, a solicitors letter is just a tactic to scare people, you have no obligation to pay and there has been no finding in their favour.
Don't waste any money with a solicitor at this point.
Contract value was £10k before staffing costs to undertake the works. The company was closed voluntarily as MDs wished to retire and DH/other manager declined option to continue running business due to economic downturn. The potential client did not wish to have the works carried out by the company due to their impending closure as they were concerned at the lack of support should they have required after sale service.
Does the letter which was issued to staff specifically say what they were to do in the event they received orders/customer enquiries?
EmmaC78 no this was set out in management meetings but this was verbal between MDs and two managers (one being DH). He has taken notes but there were no official meeting minutes.
Just read the solicitors letter again and it isn't signed by a specific solicitor just the law firm (am I reading too much into that?), also it mentions a secret profit so I think they are implying he declined the work to get some sort of remuneration from elsewhere.
In your position I would actually do nothing beyond maybe finding a good lawyer. There is no way this would ever go to trial so any action now would be a waste of money if you used a solicitor or could compromise your position if you did it yourself. If they do make an application get a lawyer to strike it out using the letter etc. As the loosing side the employer will pay costs.
It's quite normal for a letter not to be signed by an individual solicitor.
Well frankly, I'd write back to their solicitors and ask them to get stuffed. I may even tell them any more of this demand for money from them will be reported to the police for extortion. Ask them, the solicitors, for a copy of your DH's employment contract to be delivered by 31st December as you need it for your employment tribunal hearing. Like someone said above, the use of solicitors is a common scare tactic to frighten you off. Stand your ground and good luck at the tribunal.
Thank you, we have a solicitor dealing with the employment tribunal so the firm could represent when it gets escalated to the court (highly likely as they seem hell-bent on making our lives a misery). They do make reference to bringing the letter to the court's attention so is ignoring the best way forward as I don't want DH looked upon unfavourably because he refused to acknowledge?
It also states "the client reserves the right in respect of any additional claims against you", so I'm guessing we should prepare for more of these in relation to the other petty allegations they made (such as being absent without permission, when he exercised his right to look for alternative employment in the redundancy process).
How horrible for you OP.
Please don't send a rude reply as some have suggested, its important that your DH maintains a dignified professional manner, and is squeaky clean in dealing with this.
Its possible an ex colleague has implied that he took a back hander, and they've assumed the worse (and are a bit desperate due to lack of money). That doesn't excuse any of it, but I suggest you write back stating:
You are keen to clear the matter up, and have nothing to hide
You want to understand the basis of these very serious allegations properly.
I'd also make notes and gather evidence on every aspect of DHs conduct (what he was told to do and when, even handwritten notes from a meeting, hours he has worked, where he has been for work, anything which could be questioned, so you're ready if they start tossing out other accusations).
And ask for a SIGNED copy of his contract, and any other relevant document to their complaint against him.
And, I'm not an expert (just speaking from some unpleasant personal experience!), so get as much expert advice as poss (free, online if u can).
There may be some way to make it clear that you'd see any sharing of the accusations they're making as very damaging to your DH's career, and potentially libellous, without sounding threatening, and that could be useful in making them pause and wonder if they really want to take this on.
Make sure your DH is really squeaky clean too, before this goes much further (I helped a friend once with something similar, but it transpired they HAD actually done what they were accused of!)
Thank you for your reply and sorry that you have experienced something similar, DH just wants these matters resolving and I want them done in the proper manner to prevent further repercussions.
Employment law also requires that everyone is treated consistently, so if there were other people passing work to other companies, due to the planned closure, and your DH has any record of those, or even just knows, record it all ( but only things he's sure about).
Even if they manage to find (or make up) a rule he broke, they cannot single him out and let others off (this would be key for a tribunal - companies often think they can pick someone out and make an example, when they want to start enforcing rules which they have not been applying, but that isn't considered fair). They'd also need to show he was aware of any rule they believe he broke ( normally that he had signed something..).
He hasn't signed anything (not even a contract of employment) so any alleged breaches will have to be on implied clauses. They have failed on several occasions to back up their practice in writing so we will just have to ride this out and see where we end up.
Just pass the letter over to your solicitor who is handling the employment tribunal. If the contract request was for after the company ceased trading then I can't imagine their claim will stand up to any scrutiny. It is important that your solicitor knows about it and deals with it though
They're trying to bully you into dropping the tribunal.
Pass the letter to your solicitor
You need proper legal advice, please pass this over to the solicitor that is acting for your OH
Definitely a scare tactic as a reaction to the tribunal claim
He hasn’t signed anything?! I think you’re pretty safe then...
Have you checked whether your household contents insurance includes legal fees? It often does, for employment issues.
ACAS are a really good source of advice and have a helpline, where you can have a conversation.
Not an expert but I believe in order to sue you they would have to have sustained an actual loss. Since the prospective customer was just that, prospective, there was no actual loss as it cannot be known whether actual business would have resulted. Pretty sure I'm right about this but happy to be corrected.
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