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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69359
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hello, my equity partner and I we have an internet startup

Customer Question

Hello, my equity partner and I we have an internet startup in London - we have been having some arguments lately - and last friday we had a large one. There has not been any physical violence but it was a large heated argument - she has just sent me an email quoting a law below - what are my legal options? I havent replied yet not because I dont want to but because I dont want to make a bad situation worse so just thought to see what could happen.


According to the Public Order Act 1986 section 4(1)(a), “A person is guilty of an offence if he uses toward another person threatening abusive or insulting words or behavior with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him, or to provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by that person, or whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used or it is likely that such violence will be provoked.”
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Is she suggesting that you have committed this offence?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Here is a copy of her email - her sister is a lawyer im sure it was dictated by her because even the language of the writing isnt hers. however it is an unfair picture because my partner has been very difficulty with me for months too - infact when we began the company in dec/jan i had a letter composed for her to review showing she had major personal/emotional issues that was imparing her work - and i even had her review to make sure it was fair - but i never sent it to the investors because i wanted to give her privacy and a fair shot and fixing up.


 


here is her email - she sent it via work email but hasnt been working since fridya - this was sent yesterday the 11th. i really want to avoid a legal condundrum and fix this up and she is great / passionate with her work, just can be a bit of a rollercoaster personality at times.


 


To Talal,

I am writing to express my discontent with regards to the incident that happened in our office last Friday (6 September 2013).

Verbal abuse and threatening to assault me is absolutely unacceptable in any employment relations environment.

I was frightened and felt in fear of my safety when you said “Don’t f**k with me otherwise I’ll f**k back with you tenfold” and “Come outside, I could tear you apart.”

These threats would have warranted a call to the police; however I was in such a state of shock that I was unable to do so.

Your conduct has seriously breached local UK legislation that protects citizens against such aggression.

According to the Public Order Act 1986 section 4(1)(a), “A person is guilty of an offence if he uses toward another person threatening abusive or insulting words or behavior with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him, or to provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by that person, or whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used or it is likely that such violence will be provoked.”

I advise you to share this information with the other investors.

Regards,

Rosalynn Ghubrill
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
What action do you want to take about this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i havent replied because i dont understand what the options are or what she is seeking, or what she can seek. and if i respond i dont knwo what can be used against me.


 


she has not formally resigned from her role with the company.


 


she is in lebanon for 2 weeks since saturday - for me the ideal would be for her to be satisfied and continue her work from lebanon (as was her primary objective before the argument).


 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

her email although doesnt seem to take a specific action beyond expressing discontent?


 


would her single email be considered substantive evidence in and of itself to press charges against me? we argued inside our office.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No, her email doesn't really do anything at all except amount to a general winge.

Its quite unlikely that any argument you had amounted to a s4 public order anyway. S5 public order is very easily committed but s4 requires threats or provocation of violence.

She could make a complaint to the police but this email doesn't evidence any offence. She doesn't say she will do that. I would be quite surprised if the police are willing to act upon this. An argument between equity partners is not really what parliament had in mind when the offence of s4 was created.

Of course, they may. They do prosecute stupid offences sometimes. Unless you accept threatening or provoking violence you will have a defence to an action and it does ultimately come down to your word against hers.

If she wants you to share it with the investors then it would do no harm to do so but remember to make them aware of your version of events.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Im just trying to confirm how much risk im in and how much leverage they have.


 


With no witnesses, and nothing in public space - it sounds like this is just one email with one persons view on events.


 


I want to resolve this and have her get back to work - but I just need to know how far she could take things with no hard evidence, no witnesses and nothing in public.


 


could you please clarify s4 and s5 please?


 


thanks,


 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If this ran its course would/could it lead to prison or just a fine?


 


Trying to see what the full length of the tunnel could be with no hard evidence or witness.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
A s4 public order can be committed in a private place.

You will find s4 a here

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/64/section/4A

And s 5 here

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/64/section/5

She could complain to the police but I would be surprised if they want to take action.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I would imagine the police could interpret my comments as threats/insults which is covered in that law.


 


But again without evidence or witness not sure what this could lead to. prison? fine?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i dont understand this under s4


 


"(2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the person who is harassed, alarmed or distressed is also inside that or another dwelling."


 


does this mean it cannot be an s4 if the argument is between 2 people in the same house/dwelling? would our office room be considered a house/dwelling?


 


maybe im reading this wrong.


 


and it says the penalty is up to 6 months in prison or a fine up to level 5 (what does that mean)

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Also to clarify from the link/quote i provided


 


the what is the difference between a dwelling and private place?


 


just seeing what the application is.


 


sorry for all these questions - i just need to be clear before responding - i look forward to paying you for helping me with all this

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, as I said above, it can be committed in a private place and there is an argument that an office is a dwelling.

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