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Previous employer not paying university debt.


rodenal
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Hi all, hopefully somebody can give me some advice here as i'm not sure what my next step is:

 

I left my last employer in March (was let go due to lack of work etc)

- they had agreed to continue putting me throuhg my 3rd year of university attending day release.

This involves the employer paying my fees and giving me one day off a week to attend during term time.

 

Around christmas time the university claimed they had not been paid

- this was down to a university error,

they had never sent an invoice.

My director at the time sent an email along the lines of:

 

"I can confirm xxxx is in our employment, please confirm the amount due to us and i will provide an address to send your invoice to"

 

This was the last I heard of the matter.

 

A week ago i received an invoice from the university for the full amount of the years fees (£1750).

 

I immediately queried this and was told the employer hadn't paid them.

 

In my mind this is irrelevant to me as the employer has agreed to pay the fee.

 

The university obviously do not see things this way and have in their finance policy that they will pursue the student should his/her sponsor default.

 

I contacted my old employer only to find that the previous director has now left,

and there is nothing signed by him to say that the company will pay the fees.

 

I have informed them there was an email conversation going on and they are going to check this out but so far things are not sounding hopeful to me.

 

My written offer letter from the company makes no mention of this as it was to be discussed (which it was and then agreed).

 

All i have as physical evidence is a copy of the email which i detailed above (which is vague).

 

This does however have the directors name and email address at the university that it was sent to (the university claim not to have received this)

 

Where do I go from here,

I do not want to be put in a position where I have to pay these fees when a company who ultimately let me go with 1 weeks notice agreed to pay them for me,

if they had not done so I would not have attended!

 

To date I have contacted the old employer as above and recently written the university an email requesting a copy of all communication between myself,

the university and my previous employer.

 

They have yet to respond and in all honesty seem uninterested.

 

I appreciate I may need to seek legal advice on this but I dont want to spend money on legal fees only to get the answer "Just pay them" I'm also not sure who i need to actually seek out for proper legal advice on this?

Edited by rodenal
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Hi,

 

Such an obligation would raise from a contractual agreement.

You stated that your contract does not make mention of such an agreement, and that your ex-employer never referred to such compromise in any correspondence.

 

However, you could rely on that e-mail, if it mentions the university, the fee, or fees, to be paid or if there is/was an intention to create an agreement between the company,

the university and yourself...

---Aut viam inveniam aut faciam---

 

***All advice given should be taken as guidance... Professional advice should always be taken before any course of action is pursued***

 

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Thanks for the replies,

 

I never had a contract, I only ever received a letter of offer from the company which i then accepted formally- this letter did not mention the University attendance as it was later agreed (though at the time of interview it was agreed the discussion would take place).

 

The email doesn't state the amount of the fees (as they were not known). It simply states that if the University confirm the amount, the director would confirm an address to send the invoice too. It then goes on to query whether the company could claim any fees back through construction skills funding, but that is really all the content that is in there. It was sent directly to the university, with a university email adress however, would this suffice?

 

Do I have anything to go on with the verbal agreement that was made before I started attending the University between myself and the Director (Who has now left the company, on bad terms i believe)? Or the fact that the company released me for one day a week to attend from October until March when i was made redundant?

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Hi,

 

Were the fees paid monthly, or annually?

 

The content of that e-mail could well suffice to establish an intent as the director is quering the fees to be paid, and giving out an address for an invoice to be sent to.

 

I suppose that that e-mail contains your name, a student ID, the company name and address, and the director's name...

---Aut viam inveniam aut faciam---

 

***All advice given should be taken as guidance... Professional advice should always be taken before any course of action is pursued***

 

- I do not reply directly to any PMs, but you are more than welcome to enclose a link, in a PM, to your post. Thank you -

Make a contribution to this site... Help the CAG keeping on helping you for FREE.

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It contains my name as the subject, doesnt mention my student id, specifies the company name and adress in the email signature at the bottom as well as the directors name and contact details. Fees were to be paid anually - the University also made an error and did not send out an invoice until after I had left the company.

 

I have had a response from my ex employer now, confirming that as far as they are concerned there is no written agreement in place between us.

They sent me another copy of the email that I have already mentioned,

stating they do not believe this confirms any agreement.

 

They also sent me a copy of a training 'request / authorisation' that they claim would have to have been signed by myself and a director to enable this to have taken place.

 

I have never seen nor been made aware of any such document.

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The content of that e-mail should be unambiguous and certain as per showing the intent to pay the annual fee...

---Aut viam inveniam aut faciam---

 

***All advice given should be taken as guidance... Professional advice should always be taken before any course of action is pursued***

 

- I do not reply directly to any PMs, but you are more than welcome to enclose a link, in a PM, to your post. Thank you -

Make a contribution to this site... Help the CAG keeping on helping you for FREE.

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Ok thank you for the help, I'll get in contact with a solicitor and take things further. I appreciate the replies

 

Will I be within my rights to attempt to claim legal costs from the ex employer?

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You cannot claim costs if you bring a claim in a tribunal, but can do so by bringing your case in a civil court.

---Aut viam inveniam aut faciam---

 

***All advice given should be taken as guidance... Professional advice should always be taken before any course of action is pursued***

 

- I do not reply directly to any PMs, but you are more than welcome to enclose a link, in a PM, to your post. Thank you -

Make a contribution to this site... Help the CAG keeping on helping you for FREE.

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No problems...

 

(a) Gather all of your pay-slips as to show that you were an employee.

(b) Gather all correspondence with the company, from their offer.

© And most importantly, show that e-mail to your solicitor.

(d) Gather all your university documents, proving that you were attending courses. Details of dates and courses are helpful.

 

You must demonstrate that you were an employee and that, from day one, there was an intention to pay the university fees and that you attended courses on a regular basis whilst you were under employment. Demonstrate that you had an agreement in place allowing you to attend those courses.

---Aut viam inveniam aut faciam---

 

***All advice given should be taken as guidance... Professional advice should always be taken before any course of action is pursued***

 

- I do not reply directly to any PMs, but you are more than welcome to enclose a link, in a PM, to your post. Thank you -

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Your claim is for breach of contract. It would run on the Small Claims Track of the County Court, rather than in the Employment Tribunal. It is very rare to see costs awarded.

 

It would cost you several hundred, if not a few thousand pounds to instruct a Solicitor, and realistically, in a matter of this sort it would make better commercial sense to repreent yourself, as you could end up spending £1000 / 2000 chasing £1000.

 

If you have concrete evidence showing that your employer had agreed to pay the money it will be a 'slam dunk'. All in all it should not be too difficult to repreent yourself on something like this.

Edited by R&J
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What I am concerned about with small claims court is if I was to lose the case - am i not right in then thinking that I can be made to pay the defendants costs?

 

All I have in terms of evidence is the email which I've detailed above - whilst I consider this to be a clear intent to pay these fees there is no guarantee that others will see it as such.

 

I'm going to make an appointment to see a solicitor (is there a particular type of solicitor ishould be seeking?) and following their advice probably have them send a letter to my old company, copying in the university. If this fails to receive an adequate response I will make a payment plan with the university and begin small claims proceedings against my old employer, representing myself. Does this sound like a solid plan of action?

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What I am concerned about with small claims court is if I was to lose the case - am i not right in then thinking that I can be made to pay the defendants costs?

 

The general rule, for employment litigations in the Civil Courts, is that the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the costs of the successful party, but the court is entitled to make a different order and will have regard to all of the circumstances, and in particular:

 

(a) The conduct of all parties,

(b) Whether a party has succedeed on part of the case,

© Any payment into court or any other admissible offer to settle made by a party which is drawn to the court's attention.

 

All I have in terms of evidence is the email which I've detailed above - whilst I consider this to be a clear intent to pay these fees there is no guarantee that others will see it as such.

 

The e-mail you have in your possession demonstrates an intent to settle your university fees. It is worded as such, in clear terms.

 

I'm going to make an appointment to see a solicitor (is there a particular type of solicitor ishould be seeking?) and following their advice probably have them send a letter to my old company, copying in the university. If this fails to receive an adequate response I will make a payment plan with the university and begin small claims proceedings against my old employer, representing myself. Does this sound like a solid plan of action?

 

An employment law solicitor should give you the right information and should be able to decide on the merit of your case.

 

 

...

Edited by Bigredbus
Typo...

---Aut viam inveniam aut faciam---

 

***All advice given should be taken as guidance... Professional advice should always be taken before any course of action is pursued***

 

- I do not reply directly to any PMs, but you are more than welcome to enclose a link, in a PM, to your post. Thank you -

Make a contribution to this site... Help the CAG keeping on helping you for FREE.

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Reference costs in civil claims I reiterate it is VERY rare to see costs awarded on the Small Claims Track. In cases such as this the Judge probably won't even entertain submissions for costs, let alone make a costs order.

 

It will probably cost you money to see a Solicitor. I would say don't bother unless you can get it as a freebie, this is a straightforward breach of contract.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Quick update on this - seen solicitor last week who agreed small claims would be the way to go here. He however was not so confident that I would be succesful as he believes the employer would try and play the email off as an enquiry rather than an intent to pay, obviously the outcome would be determined by the courts view on this.

 

 

I have instructed him to send a letter to the former employer (fees were very reasonable for doing so imo), so I have a formal record of requesting they pay the fees before starting small claims proceedings, and have spoken with the University r.e payment should (or when) they refuse.

 

As an aside from all of this I am now wondering whether I have any other recourse available to me for seperate matters. I was given only one weeks notice (I had only worked there for around 7-8 months however) including the use of my company car and had no formal contract, although I did have a clear letter of offer.

 

Should I be looking into taking any further action against them, or have I left this too long (let go in March)? Previously I was concentrating on finding further employment and had put it down to 'the way things are just now' but their recent unethical behaviour has angered me to say the least.

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry to drag up an old thread again but i'm now looking for further advice. I have sent in small claims forms which have now been delivered to my old employer. They have just contacted me asking me to provide documentation supporting the recent payment I have made to the university with regards to my claim.

 

The only documentation I have available is the invoice I received from the University.

 

I have not made full payment to the university yet, only agreed a nominal monthly amount until my case is heard - will this be a problem? I assume they are looking to go down the road that I have not suffered any actual loss yet and use this to try and have my claim dismissed. This is a worry - I cannot afford to pay the £1750 to the university in one lump sum to substantiate this.

 

In my opinion this should be irrelevant as the contract between myself and my old employer is not affected by whether I have paid any money to the university - only by the fact that they have failed to deliver their obligation - am I correct? If so what should I be repsonding to my ex employer with ,if at all?

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Quick bump for this - any input even if just opinion is more than welcome.

 

I am tempted to send the invoice (which i already have done) over to my former employer and inform them this is proof of financial loss - if they query this I will either

 

a) state it is not for them to decide what constitutes financial loss

 

b) state that as their breach of contract has resulted in the sum of £xxx not being paid to either myself or the university, this along with the invoice from the university is the financial loss. Which makes sense to me, as part of the terms of my employment were this money should be paid either to me or the university directly, the fact that it hasnt means I have incurred a loss, regardless of whether I have completely paid the debt to the university or not (I gave them the opportunity in writing to pay the monies direct to the university before lodging court papers)

 

does this make sense? My real problem here is my complete lack of actual legal knowledge - This makes sense to me but I don't want to make a fool of myself in court.

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I think I understand what you're saying, but I don't have much legal knowledge on this sort of stuff either. If your ex-employer doesn't pay the university, will they pursue you for the money or not? That's where I could see your loss occurring. Maybe you need a letter from the university saying that the money is payable by one of you regardless, assuming that's the case.

 

Being picky, it's not an actual financial loss at the moment, hence why I suggest documenting that the money is payable to the university.

 

I hope that reads better to you than it does to me :???:.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Yeah that makes sense and unfortunately backs up what I suspect too. As the employer have defaulted on payment the university will pursue me for it - they have already invoiced me directly and there are terms and conditions within university documents that confirm this too.

 

Surely I shouldn't have to pay this money out before claiming it back, afterall it was part of my contract of employment with the company.

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I agree with you, it looks like a potential loss/debt. Are the t's and c's from the university clear that you are legally bound to pay the money if no-one else does? That was my line of thought about having a letter from them and addressed to you personally.

 

I don't know the answer to whether you need to pay it and reclaim it, or have other options, sorry. Hopefully someone else will have an idea.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Yes fairly clear, from the credit control document:

 

"

If the student has arranged for the fee to be paid in whole or in part by a sponsor, the Finance Office will invoice the Sponsor directly. In the event of a sponsor defaulting on payment, it is the student’s responsibility to pay the fees. The student will receive an invoice for all outstanding fees. This invoice will be due immediately as per the standard terms and conditions."

I also have the statement : "Your sponsor xxxxxxx has advised the University they would not be paying your tuition fees. As a result of this the student then becomes liable to pay the fees"

These are clear to me, however I am concerned about how to deal with the information my former employer has requested from me and also whether proof of this debt will be enough or if I will need to make a full payment before resubmitting a case (which I really do not want to do as I simply cannot afford to pay the money out over less than say six months)

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Thanks again, it's very frustrating not really knowing the ins and outs of whether what I am trying to claim is realistic or not. I dont want to give them any excuse to try and wriggle out of appearing in court or paying this debt.

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Have decided to respond to my former employer - sending a further copy of the invoice from the uni to myself, a copy of an email which states I have become responsible because of the employers default along with a contact number for the university finance department to confirm i have arranged payment with them. Also decided to state in this response that I have no issues with my former employer making payment direct to the university.

 

Hopefully this evidence will be enough to convince the court that a loss has taken place (in terms of my breach of contract meaning the amount of the fees has not been paid either to myself or the uni, who are now pursuing me). This is now my main concern, although it may well be unfounded

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