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Manchester Law Firm’s Campaign to Support Dementia is a Knitting Success

Manchester Law Firm’s Campaign to Support Dementia is a Knitting Success

LEADING LAW FIRM, Slater Heelis LLP has provided local care home residents living with dementia therapeutic support as a result of its innovative Twiddlemuff campaign.

To support National Dementia Awareness Week, the legal practice reached out to local knitting enthusiasts and asked them to create a Twiddlemuff; a specially designed hand muff that provides stimulation activity for restless hands for patients suffering from dementia.

After a month of knitting, the firm was inundated with Twiddlemuffs hand-made by members of the local community.

Partners Chris Partington and Georgina Bradshaw donated the collection of Twiddlemuffs to several local care homes, including Faversham House in Urmston, Sunrise Senior Living in Hale Barns and Urmston Manor, and The Knoll Care Partnership.

Chris said:

“Our specialist team work closely with a number of local care homes to provide support on a range of issues, from wills and the probate process to Court of Protection hearings and Lasting Power of Attorney.

“The support for the campaign has been amazing. Twiddlemuffs take a lot of time and effort to create and we would like to thank all of those people who have got involved.

“We hope that the Twiddlemuffs we donated will go a long way to help people living with dementia.”

Twiddlemuffs are still welcome to support the cause and can be donated by dropping them off in reception at Slater Heelis’ Sale high street location on 16 School Road, Sale M33 7XP.

A free guide on how to knit a Twiddlemuff is available on our website –

Uber Granted right of appeal

Uber Granted right of appeal

Minicab company, Uber, has been granted the right to appeal against a recent employment tribunal ruling concerning the employment status of its drivers. 

Towards the end of last year, the London employment tribunal heard cases from two Uber drivers on behalf of a wider group of Uber drivers. The drivers claimed that they were employed by Uber and enjoyed associated employment rights and protections. Uber claimed that its drivers were self-employed and many Uber drivers agreed and argued that they enjoyed being self-employed, with the freedom that this brings. 

The employment tribunal decided that Uber drivers were workers and, as such, they enjoyed minimum rights, such as the right to be paid a minimum wage and the right to receive statutory sick pay. 

Uber has now been granted the right of appeal against the employment tribunal’s decision. The employment appeal tribunal (EAT) is set to hear the appeal in September 2017. The EAT’s decision will have far-reaching consequences in the current so-called gig economy where the labour market is flooded with short-term contracts and freelance work, rather than permanent employment contracts.


Impact of Immigration from the EU on Hospitality Sector

Impact of Immigration from the EU on Hospitality Sector

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned that the hospitality sector could face a shortfall of 60,000 workers every year if immigration from the EU is too tightly controlled. It has warned that the sector faces having to drastically reduce its dependence on EU workers. A study produced by the accountancy firm, KPMG, for the BHA, estimates that it will take around 10 years to reduce the need for EU workers. The study estimates that around 75% of waiting staff in the UK, 37% housekeeping staff and 25% of all chefs are from the EU.

Immigration is likely to be one of the most controversial Brexit issues to be negotiated and the Government has so far been reluctant to reveal any detail as to its plans in this regard. One option being considered is to allow preferential access to EU nationals after Britain leaves the EU. It is clear however that no decisions in this regard have yet been made. A Government spokesman has however confirmed that although free-movement will end, it will be replaced by new immigration systems that is in the “national interest”.

Senior Manager’s failure amounts to gross misconduct

Senior Manager’s failure amounts to gross misconduct

The case of Adesokin v Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited concerned one of Sainsbury’s Regional Operations Managers, A. Sainsbury’s operates an employee engagement procedure, which deals with progression, target setting and pay etc. A was responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of the policy in his region. Managers are prohibited from interfering with the procedure. However, a Human Resources partner at Sainsbury’s emailed a number of store managers stating that they should encourage the most enthusiastic colleagues to complete the relevant engagement survey. A did ask the Human Resources partner to explain to the managers what was meant by the email but it was clear that the Human Resources partner had not done this.  

A chose to ignore the situation and did nothing to rectify the problem or draw it to attention. He was later found guilty of gross misconduct and summarily dismissed. He brought a claim in the High Court for wrongful dismissal. The High Court dismissed his claim holding that A’s failure to take active steps to address the situation amounted to gross misconduct. A appealed to the Court of Appeal but the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. The Court of Appeal held that Sainsbury’s was entitled to dismiss A for gross misconduct and that in appropriate cases an act of gross negligence can amount to gross misconduct. In the Court of Appeal’s view, a failure to act could, in particular circumstances, amount to gross misconduct. In this case, because A was responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of the relevant policy in his region, once it became known to him the integrity of the process was being undermined, it was his duty to address the situation. His inaction amounted, in the Court of Appeal’s view, to a serious dereliction of duty, which undermined the trust and confidence and therefore constituted gross misconduct. The High Court’s decision therefore stood.  

This is case is an important reminder to employers that a failure to act can constitute gross misconduct, provided that the failure is sufficiently serious.


Slater Heelis expands its Commercial Property team with new partner

LEADING NORTH-WEST LAW FIRM, Slater Heelis LLP has appointed Simon Maddox as a partner in the Commercial Property team.

Before joining Slater Heelis Simon was a Senior Associate at Gateley PLC, undertaking all aspects of commercial property work with a particular specialism in retail, having acted for a number of high profile national and local retailers. Simon is both highly qualified and experienced within his field.

At Slater Heelis, Simon will continue to work across a range of property disciplines including landlord and tenant, investment and property finance work. He will be based in the Manchester city centre office.

Will Henson, Head of the Commercial Property team at Slater Heelis, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Simon on board as we continue to expand our team after a very successful year in 2016.

“Simon has a wealth of experience working with a range of businesses from corporates to SME’s. His expertise will enhance the high-quality service we provide to all of our clients”.

Simon said: “I’m looking forward to joining a strong, dynamic team with ambitions to grow, and hope to play an integral part in helping to achieve this.”

Slater Heelis LLP is a full-service law firm with four offices across Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Slater Heelis Top 10 for Deals

LEADING MANCHESTER LAW FIRM, Slater Heelis LLP has been recognised as one of the most active law firms in the North West last year.

The Slater Heelis Corporate team was ranked 10th for deals by volume in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland M&A Review table produced by data company Experian with a total of 21 transactions announced in 2016. This is the second year in succession the Corporate team has achieved this ranking.

The value of the deals completed by the firm was £181 million.

Key deals include a €45m deal for Polish bio-tech company Mabion, a £3 million fundraising round for pharmaceutical company Blueberry Therapeutics and the multi-million-pound sale of Aflex Hose Limited.

Simon Wallwork, a Partner in the Corporate team at Slater Heelis, said:

“The Manchester corporate finance community remained buoyant throughout 2016 defying fears that Brexit and Governmental changes could result in a slowdown in the deals completed.

“We have the market leading team in the North West of England for life sciences work with over 30 clients in this sector. We also act for a wide range of companies in the digital and telecoms sector and are prominent in the healthcare market for acquisitions and disposals.

“The team have a healthy pipeline of deals involving a range of businesses in the region and beyond in 2017 which we’re looking forward to completing.”

Chris Bishop, Managing Partner at Slater Heelis, said:

“The Corporate team has made huge progress over the past two years and this ranking is a testament to the skill and expertise within the team.”

Experian reports that 832 deals were announced in the North West in 2016, an increase of 5.6% on the 788 in 2015. Deal numbers surpassed the 800 mark in the region for the first time and the total value of the transactions was worth £13.6bn. Deals in the North West accounted for 11.6% of all UK deals by volume and 4.8% by value.

Slater Heelis is a full-service law firm with offices in Manchester city centre, Sale and Timperley.

Slater Heelis Expands Mediation Team

KIM AUCOTT, consultant solicitor in the family team at leading Manchester law firm Slater Heelis has qualified as a mediator.

Mediation is becoming increasingly popular with couples offering them a less hostile route to separation. Mediators meet with a couple together and help them try and reach a mutual agreement.

Mark Heptinstall, Head of family law at Slater Heelis, said:

“Kim’s qualification will strengthen a crucial niche specialism within our team. With Phillip Rhodes also mediating we now have both a male and a female mediator allowing us to provide a comprehensive service to suit the individual requirements of all our family clients.

“We take pride in the fact that our family clients have access to the highest standards of professional advice. Kim is a specialist family solicitor and like all our lawyers, a member of Resolution which comprises 6,500 lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. Members adhere to a code of practice which promotes a non-confrontational approach to family disputes.”

Kim Aucott added:

“Using a mediator can be more cost-effective and much quicker for couples than traditional litigation.

“When a couple has reached a decision to divorce or separate family mediators can help them to work out the practical and legal aspect of their divorce or separation and make arrangements about their children in a way that is focussed on their needs.”

Kim is also chair of the Manchester Law Society Family Committee and President elect to the Manchester Medico Legal Society.

Is it possible to have dementia and make a will?

Is it possible to have dementia and make a will?

The fact that somebody has a diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean that they are unable to make a will. Determining whether someone is able to make a will depends on whether they have the “mental capacity” specifically to make a will.  Mental capacity is the ability to make a decision at the time that it needs to be made.

A court case made in 1870, known as Banks v Goodfellow set out the specific test of capacity needed to make a will, this is known as “testamentary capacity” and describes the person’s legal and mental ability to make or alter a valid will. The judge in that case said that the person making the will must:

  • Understand the nature of making a will and its effects
  • Understand the extent of their property
  • Understand and appreciate their moral obligations to other people in the making of the will, and be able to identify the people concerned.

Where someone lacks the mental capacity to make a will, any will produced on their behalf will be invalid unless it has been authorised by the Court of Protection.

The process of making a will where someone has dementia

Where someone has dementia, it is important to instruct a specialist lawyer, who is not only an expert in the law relating to Wills, but understands the law relating to mental capacity. They should also have the skills needed to communicate with the person concerned.

Where a lawyer has any doubt as to whether the person making the will has testamentary capacity, they should instruct a professional with expertise – such as a doctor specialising in dementia or a psychologist –  to assess the client’s mental capacity. This will involve the professional writing a report or agreeing to witness the will.

Occasionally someone may have the requisite mental capacity at the time that they give instructions, but not at the time they come to sign their will.  In these circumstances, the will may be valid provided that the person concerned:

  • Had the necessary mental capacity when they gave instructions for their will; and
  • They remember giving their earlier instructions at the time that they sign the will.

What can be done where someone has lost testamentary capacity?

If somebody has lost testamentary capacity, and either has not made a will at all, or has a will that is no longer appropriate to their circumstances, it is possible for someone –  usually a deputy or attorney –  to apply to the Court of Protection for authority to make what is known as a “statutory will”.

The Court of Protection deals with the affairs of people who have lost the mental capacity to make key decision for themselves.  The court will need to be satisfied that the person concerned (“P”) does not have testamentary capacity and, broadly speaking, that:

  • It is in P’s best interest to make a will, or a fresh will; and
  • The contents of the will proposed by the applicant, are in P’s best interests.

Everyone who would be affected by the proposed will – for example beneficiaries under an existing will, or under the “intestacy rules” (which apply when someone dies without having make a valid will) – has the opportunity to make representations.  If the court agrees that the proposed will is in P’s best interests, it will set out how the will should be executed, on P’s behalf, by the person authorised by the court. The court then seals the will.

‘Gay cake’ appeal decided

‘Gay cake’ appeal decided

In the recent case of Lee v McArthur & others, the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland has upheld the previous County Court in decision that a bakery’s refusal to bake a cake for a homosexual customer with the caption “Support Gay Marriage” written on it amounted to direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, contrary to the provisions of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006.


In this case the Claimant, Mr Lee, who was associated with an organization called “QueerSpace”, a volunteer-led organization for the LGBT community in Northern Ireland, had been planning to attend a private event to mark the end of Northern Ireland anti-homophobia week in May 2014. In preparation for the event Mr Lee had ordered a cake from Ashers Baking Company Ltd with the caption “Support Gay Marriage” on it. Having placed his order, Mr Lee subsequently received a call from the Respondent bakery who explained that the order could not be fulfilled as they were a Christian business and, in hindsight, should not have taken the order. The bakery apologised and arranged for a refund. Mr Lee expressed his disbelief to the bakery and brought a claim for discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The claim was issued against the bakery and its two directors Mr and Mrs McArthur (who are Christians). When the Respondents gave evidence they explained that they opposed the introduction of same-sex marriage and noted that they had real concerns that the cake design would have been identified as an Ashers’ cake as their logo is on their boxes. The bakery further argued that under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006, an individual is held to discriminate against another’s sexual orientation if they treat that person less favourably than another and under the circumstances they had not treated Mr Lee unfavourably as they would have refused a similar order from a heterosexual customer. District Judge Brownlie had held that the bakery had directly discriminated against Mr Lee on the grounds of his sexual orientation. The judge further concluded that the Respondent had identified the wrong comparator and that the correct comparator in this case should be that of a heterosexual customer placing an order with the caption “Support Heterosexual Marriage”. The Respondents had also argued that they were exempt from the 2006 Regulations for being a Christian organisation. This argument was also rejected as it was held that the bakery was a profit-based business, notwithstanding the directors’ religious beliefs.

Decision made by Court of Appeal

The matter was then referred to the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland who rejected the appeal and agreed that the bakery directly discriminated against one of its customers on the grounds of sexual orientation by refusing to make the cake.

The Court rejected the argument presented by Mr and Mrs McArthur that that their rights under Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights had to be taken into account and that the equality legislation had to be read down to accommodate those rights.

The Court found that if businesses were free to choose what services to provide to the gay community on the basis of religious belief, the potential for arbitrary abuse would be substantial. It was open to Mr and Mrs McArthur to amend Ashers Baking Company ‘s offering to manifest their beliefs while ensuring that they continued to provide cakes that did not give rise to potential conflicts.

What Next?

Although the case was decided under the Northern Ireland Regulations, the case illustrates the issues that a business in England, Scotland and Wales might face under the Equality Act 2010.

The case also highlights the potential tension between the protected rights and anti-discrimination provisions under the Equality Act 2010 and the right to manifest religious beliefs and freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The matter may also not be concluded yet as the legal representatives for the McArthur family are considering making an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in London.

Company held not liable for director’s assault following Christmas party

Company held not liable for director’s assault following Christmas party

In the recent case of Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd, the High Court held that a business was not vicariously liable for an assault by one of its directors on an employee that took place after the work’s Christmas party.

The assault had been provoked by a heated discussion about a work-related issue, in a hotel bar after the party. The High Court were satisfied that the ‘impromptu drinks’ did not take place in the course of employment and therefore the business was not vicariously liable.

M was managing director of the business and in 2010 he recruited B, who was a friend. Following the Christmas party in 2011 some of the staff went on for ‘impromptu’ drinks at a hotel bar. The conversation at the hotel bar had initially been on social topics but at around 2:00 am it turned to work matters. A contentious issue arose and M began to lecture the employees present on how he owned the company and made the decisions. When B challenged him (in a non-aggressive manner), M punched him twice. The second blow knocked B unconscious and he fell to the floor and sustained brain damage. B brought a claim for damages against his employer on the basis that it was vicariously liable for M’s conduct.

When making its decision, the High Court took in to account that fact that M was authorised to act on behalf of the company. M was also able to make decisions about expenditure and it had been his decision that drinks, taxis, accommodation and the party had been paid for by the company. The High Court did not however accept that M should always be considered to be ‘on duty’ because he was in the company of other employees.

In addition, the fact that the assault had taken place in the context of a discussion about work had only a limited effect on the question of liability. It was held that merely raising a work-related issue cannot have the effect of changing an interaction between to colleagues in to something that was ‘in the course of employment’.

The High Court also felt that it was relevant to consider the extent to which the employment relationship was responsible for putting B at risk of injury. It was held that what followed the Christmas party was entered in to in the context of voluntary choice and therefore the business could not be held vicariously liable for what took place at the hotel.