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Employment Dispute / CCJ / Urgent help needed!

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Hi,

 

Would be grateful for some help please.

 

I have just received a Claim Form from a former employer, who is now seeking a CCJ against me. I will defend the claim entirely, but one aspect surrounding statutory interest I am unsure of.

 

The dispute surrounds the termination of my employment in June 2010 (the details of which I will not go into). In July 2010 I responded stating the amounts claimed were not due to which there was never any acknowledgement. In September 2010 I briefly corresponded with the employer regarding my examination results, at which time there was no mention of any monies still being due. In October 2012 (over two years have passed!), I received a letter from their solicitor stating I need to pay within 14 days or more formal recovery measures may be taken. I responded saying the amount was not due. I received a further letter stating I had 5 days to pay or more formal recovery measures will be taken. I again responded saying the amount was not due. I now have the claim form in which they are claiming £1.5k and counting in statutory interest. It would appear in the two years I thought the matter had gone away I was being charged over £1 a day in interest. Are they able to do this without prior warning? The contract they are disputing over makes no provision for claiming statutory interest automatically. They are seeking this under section 69 of County Courts Act 1984 but it seems a little strange to have not bothered contacting me for two years and charging over £1 a day in interest for the prilivage. Will a judge uphold this? Thoughts please :)

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A Judge will only uphold the claim if you do not challenge it. The Claimant can always lodge the claim for Statutory Interest, but you can challenge on the basis that the claim could and should have been issued sooner, so the Judge may then exercise discretion in ruling out interest for all or part of the period in which the Claimant failed to take recovery action. Stat Interest (Sec 69 County Courts Act) is not a matter which needs to be covered in the original contract - if a claim is upheld then it can become due for the period in which the Defendant had the use of the Claimant's money, so is outside of the scope of any original agreement.

 

Primarily of course though, the matter of interest would only be a factor in the event that the Claimant is successful. What is the precise nature of the claim - are you willing to disclose the POC?


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Thank you so much for your reply. It is quite a detailed matter which is why I wasn't going to originally go into details on that aspect, but I will try to summarise as much as possible:

 

I entered into a study agreement with my employer in late 2009, the terms of which if I left the employment within a year of completion of the qualification I would be liable to the costs circa £5k. After signing the contract I was advised on numerous occassions that work was slow and we needed more cases to come in. In late April 2010 myself and my colleague (the only two employees of the company) were verbally advised in a meeting that the company was still in financial difficulties and a formal decision was going to be made on 28 May 2010. I asked how this affected the study agreement (under which me and my colleague were both under) and were advised is we found alternative employment we would not be held to the agreement. We were in fact expressly advised to bring our CV up to date and seek alternative employment.

 

I started my job search on 5 May, albeit this was right in the middle of studying for my exams (how ironic!). I had a little interest and one telephone interview after this date.

 

On 18 May I sent my CV to a prospective employer (the employer for which I later started working for!) I was a direct referral from a friend to a friend, so was hopeful I would be successful in my application.

 

On 24 May I had my case handover meeting with my boss ahead of my annual leave, which I was taking to study for the upcoming exam. We were talking about case matters, but because I appeared stressed, he started talking about whether I had interviewed anywhere and had I been successful in finding alternative employment. I was understandably a bit surprised to be asked this (knowing the formal decision regarding redundancy was to be made on 28 May) but just replied I had feelers out. He went on to say he had found external funding to cover my salary for 6 months, so as to be able to work with him to wind down the caseload, but my colleague was still being made redundant on 28 May. He said he considered me a permanent member of staff (surely I was before this anyway?!) I asked how this effected the study contract and he said I would now be held to it. I stated that I could still be made another offer from these 'feelers' I had put out, and he said it would all need to be reviewed on its own merits if the situation arose. I at no point agreed to anything in this meeting.

 

On 27 May I was invited to an interview with the new employer and attended the interview on 1 June. I received a formal job offer on 3 June.

 

On 14 June I returned to work from annual leave having sat my exam and gave notice that I had secured alternative employment. He said he wanted the money back and I went on to explain it was solely on his recommendation that I even started a job search. The 6 month offer of external funding he had sought was not sufficient job security given I am solely responsible for a mortgage. He said it would not be resolved there and then so would discuss later. Instead of working my months notice he said I could work to the end of the month (which later turned out with him asking me to leave the following day!)

 

I started working for new employer on 16 June 2010.

 

On 25 June 2010 he wrote to me with a final salary cheque (being in breach of my contract, as it was to be paid electronically each month) and said if I banked it I would be accepting full liability. I took legal advice and responded saying I would bank the cheque as entitled, but in no way accepted liability. This letter got no response.

 

In September 2010, I emailed him to advise that I had passed my exams and he replied congratulating me. No mention of my previous letter or the monies being due.

 

I had no communication until receiving a solicitors letter 25 September 2012 (two years later!) saying I need to pay within 14 days. I replied saying not due etc etc (the rest is detailed in original post)

 

So I am now with a claim form the PoC simply being I agreed to the loan in December 2009, it was an express term of the agreement that I repay monies if voluntarily left employment within one year and that I have failed to pay.

 

The whole argument seems to hang around the timings (which is why I have been quite detailed) and that I still went ahead with alternative employment after I was told he had funding. I cannot see that 6 months to wind down a company can be deemed sufficient job security and at no point did I agree to it. In my mind when he told me to find another job he effectively tore up the contract, then he later tried to sellotape it back together and hold me to its terms, without my consent. I know debts do not become statute barred until a period of 6 years, but leaving this matter for two years just seems unjust (especially now claiming statutory interest on top!)

 

I feel totally cheated out of my job, a job I was not looking to resign from at any immediate point in time (especially bang in the middle of my exams!) and now backed into a corner to pay up (if I get a CCJ it has huge impacts on my job, which he of course knows!)

 

Any thoughts would be gratefully received. (sorry this is such a long post)

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