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Can we contest an award if.................?


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I hope I'm posting this in the right place as we've moved on from an employment claim.

 

A brief overview:

I'm speaking as a relatively new committee member for an unincorporated charity.

The charity ceased due to lack of funds and is now insolvent, all assets have been sold to pay the debts.

 

The manager decided to bring two claims against us in the Employment Tribunal,

1 - Unfair Dismissal = This was judged to be 'unfounded'.

2 - Breach of Contract = For non payment of contractual sums which were due in 2010 (£2000) & 2011 (£1000) £3000 in total.

 

My query relates to the second claim of Breach of Contract.

Grant money was supplied to the employee by the Local Authority and paid via the charity bank account, to keep the funds they had 'monitoring forms' which had to be signed and returned to the LA confirming they had received the payments.

 

We have signed receipts in respect of both sums, signed by the Manager herself and then countersigned by the Admin Manager who dealt with the claims from the LA and then instructed the then Treasurer.

No liabilities or creditors were listed as outstanding in the end of year accounts for both these years.

 

The claimant stated (under oath) that she signed the form under duress so the Admin manager could get the money but she did not receive it.

The Treasurer admitted she had received the money in the bank but did not pay it out to the manager. She also said her accounts are littered with errors which is why the money didn't show as being unpaid on the annual accounts which were submitted.

The Admin manager did not attend but supplied a written statement to say the money was not paid.

 

In summing up the judge stated that our evidence was compelling and he would have found in favour of the respondents on that evidence alone but he can not ignore the testimony of the previous Treasurer. He can not find any good reason why she would have come to court and lied knowing she is liable for her actions during her term with the charity so he awarded the £3000 for Breach of Contract.

 

The judge also stated that no award can be made if it is gained illegally and that the Respondents may have recourse here but as the admin manger was not present to defend her own actions he could not consider that point.

 

My question is, how do we pursue the 'clean hands' issue in contesting the award?

 

I see two options: Appeal the tribunal decision on this part of the claim OR go to a small claims court.

I will also add that these women are all friends with each other.

 

Many thanks for your help in advance.

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What happened to the £3k that was paid into the charity bank account ?

 

Think the accounts needs to be looked at a bit closer and I would think about making a Data Protection Subject Access Request to the bank, if you have authority to do so. I would be looking to get details of all transactions, copies of cheques, anything else they may have.

 

Sounds a bit odd. I think I would be doing a bit of digging and look to take separate action. Is there any suggestion of any possible illegality being involved ? Charity commission - can they advise ?

We could do with some help from you.

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You can generally only appeal a tribunal decision to the EAT on a point of law. The EAT will not interfere with the tribunal's findings of fact unless they are "perverse", in other words, the tribunal reached a conclusion that no tribunal could properly have reached on the facts before it.

 

It seems to me that the issue here is whether the money was in fact paid to the manager. This is a factual question which would be very difficult to appeal. The EAT will not hear witnesses. Is this the basis of your proposed appeal or do you have something else?

 

If this money has simply disappeared, perhaps the best route would be to sue the former treasurer in small claims?

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Thanks for your input Unclebulgaria67, in answer to your questions:

Over £3000 was paid to the manager who was entitled to the money.

The previous treasurer stated the money paid was "for other things, books etc........ and that she was very careless with the paper trail of receipts etc"

The treasurer swore on oath that she paid for lot's of stuff to the manager but NONE of it was in relation to the £3000 claimed.

 

The accounts have been looked at and there are anomalies, again explained by the treasurer as "I must have made a mistake"

 

Yes there is a question of illegality, possible gaining funds from a local authority by deception.

 

They have signed for the money stating it had been paid to the manager, if they had not done this then the money would have had to be returned to the local authority and they would not have qualified for any further funding.

 

The manager now claims she did not receive the money she signed for and admitted in the tribunal she only signed the form because she was told to so the admin manager could get the money.

The admin manager counter signed the form but wasn't in court to explain her actions.

 

The judge stated that if the money was gained 'by deception' then the respondents would have recourse against the claim. Unfortunately, and rightly he could only act on the evidence he had before him.

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Steampowered...... Thank you, your comments make complete sense and this is indeed what we suspected.

 

We felt the Judge was very reasonable and I doubt we would have come to a different conclusion with the same evidence before us. The audit does show the money was paid out to the claimant but in the absence of any paperwork stating that word for word then we are at a loss! Add that to the fact that the claimants friend was happy to lie!!!

 

We are getting a 'full' summing up of the Judges verdict in which he mentions these matters so it should be relatively easy to prove in a small claims court. So we just need to sit tight and wait for the full judgement order and then we pursue the matter with the people that are responsible for claiming and spending this money.

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Thank you Steampowered.

We sat and listened to the Judgement and yes the judge did make reverence to a possibility of funds being obtained by deception, but he could only make a judgement call on the fact's in front of him.

 

In my opinion, the previous Treasurer felt she could come into the tribunal, admit they were all her clerical errors while shrugging her shoulders believing she was 'untouchable' as she helped her friend who was the claimant. This may be true in the ET but she seems to have forgotten the Trustees Act still applies to her.

 

With regard to the money given by our Local Authority, their contract makes it very clear what the money is to be used for, clearly they have breached that so ultimately they may have to pay it back.

 

In my opinion which I have formed from the facts in front of me, they have 'milked' this charity over a long period of time in several different ways, if they had just walked away then I guess no one would ever have known. They just had to come back for a 'final bite of the cherry' with the employment tribunal.

 

This is such a great forum and the Cagers advise and thoughts have been invaluable, I couldn't have got this far without it. Thank you

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I wonder whether the charities commission will be interested in receiving details of the treasurers conduct. If you have proof of issues they caused, perhaps there is a process, so they cannot act as a treasurer for another charity. Perhaps the local authority may be interested in looking into their mis-use of the funds they provided.

 

As I said before, I think I would be doing some digging and getting all the information I needed to take this forward on a proper basis.

We could do with some help from you.

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