Over 20 employees of an insurance business that suddenly closed in August 2017 have been helped to claim compensation by 10 law students from Manchester, who worked the case on their behalf.
Imperial Consultants Ltd was an insurance company based in Lancashire. In August last year it closed its doors suddenly, with over 40 employees left without a job. This came with no prior warning and in the immediate aftermath employees were not provided with any redundancy pay and without receiving any holiday pay that they may have had outstanding on file.
When a company is shutting its doors, it has a legal responsibility to go through a number of compulsory procedures and steps in order to consult with staff and let them know exactly what it going on. Employees also have the right to be walked through a fair and transparent dismissal process. None of these processes took place, so employees were left reeling, with no recompense to help them along until they could find new and suitable employment, and a need for help from a law firm in Manchester who could help them.
Christine Peacock is the Manager and a Solicitor within the Legal Advice Centre at Manchester University. She was intrigued by the case when two of the dismissed former employees visited an employment law clinic at Bury Law Centre. She spoke to the individuals and as there was no Legal Aid available for a case such as this, and previously a private solicitor had been unable to help the pair, she decided to take the case on and enlist the assistance of a group of ten students from the University.
She said: “Previously, our students have only provided advice in the form of a letter sent after a supervised interview – this situation provided a great opportunity to take on a case and provide representation for a group of workers, using it to work with students as part of their educational development”.
The group took on the case pro bono as a way of assisting the students with their practical development and from there the two individuals contacted other former colleagues and a further 19 people agreed to be part in the legal action. The students were vital in obtaining all of the relevant information from claimants, as well as cross-checking and correcting wrong payments from the Insolvency Service.
Although the case reached a dead end in terms of the benefit of claiming for redundancy pay, reclaiming the notice and holiday pay that was lost and claiming unfair dismissal due to the company being insolvent at this time, there was still hope for a positive outcome. The students advised the group that they could win a protective award. This was in relation to the failure of the company to consult with staff about the possibility of a collective redundancy.
The case was uncontested and an award of around £150,000 was won for the group to cover 90-days’ gross pay, which was a huge result for the students and comparable to any commercial solicitors in Manchester.
Summary: A highly skilled and dedicated group of law students stepped in on behalf of a group of redundant employees when the insurance business they worked for suddenly closed down. Read on to find out the legal victory they achieved.