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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I'm working as a project manager, on a contractor basis, for

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I'm working as a project manager, on a contractor basis, for a large, national company. It's state owned.
I'm coming to the end of the second of 2, six month contacts. The department I'm with wanted as further 6 month contract, and this was processed through the internal system in late September. I have an email, auto generated by the system stating that 'New vacancy IRC1347721 has been approved. These changes are effective from 21-SEP-2015.' It stated that the final approval was from the director of the company.
On the basis of this email, I assumed that my contract would continue for another 6 months from 11th November, as my current contract finishes on the 10th November.
I was informed last week that there was an issue with the document - apparently a code had been omitted or left off, and a revised form had to be submitted.
In the last 2 weeks, a recruitment freeze has been put in place, and any new recruitment has to go before a panel. I get the impression that my contract renewal, which is due to go before the panel next week sometime, is unlikely to be approved. If it is, there is likely to be a delay until I'm reinstated, with a loss of earnings.
If it isn't, I will need to look for another contract, and because of the email quoted above, I've lost about 5 weeks of searching time.
What standing does the email of 21st September have, and do I have any rights given that someone subsequently found a problem with the (electronic) paperwork?
For information, the company is Network Rail, and Capita are involved with the processing of contracts and payments. I am paid via a further company who act as an agency.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello what is your specific query about this please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have an email saying that the 'New Vacancy' - in fact, a contract extension had been approved - and it is now in question, having to go through another process which is unlikely to approve it.Does the original email have any legal standing?
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. I am slightly unclear as to whether the original application / with the wrong code was approved?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello sorry I am continuing with this question. What was the criteria for renewal based on the original contract?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hi, not sure if you saw my follow up query above? I believe there were some technical issues earlier which may have prevented that. I wanted to know what were the criteria for renewal based on the original contract?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I think something went missing somewhere. The situation is:I started work for Network Rail on 11.11.14.
I am working on a contract, self employed basis, with payment sent weekly to 'my' company.
I was initially engaged on 2, six month contracts, to run one after the other. There was a brief hiccup between the two, but it was resolved quickly.
The second 6 month contract is due to expire on 10.11.15.
In early September, my line manager, and her manager, decided that they wanted me to continue working with them for a further 6 months beyond 11.11.15, and instigated the application for this, through the company's systems.
The final approval comes from the director, and on his approval, the system issued an email to my line manager, as below:----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Robinson Lucie
Sent: 24 September 2015 21:04
To: ***** *****
Subject: FW: New vacancy IRC1347721 has been approved. These changes are effective from 21-SEP-2015.Alan
Good news, looks like all is approved for your contract extension.From: Network Rail E-Business Suite - Automatic Notification [mailto***@******.***]
Sent: 24 September 2015 16:16
To: ***** *****
Subject: FYI: New vacancy IRC1347721 has been approved. These changes are effective from 21-SEP-2015.From
SystemUserTo
Robinson Ms LucieSent
24-Sep-2015 16:14:47ID
83579854Final Approver
Atterwell Mr Simon MarkUser Name
SATTERWENote From Last approver
Copyright (c) 2006, Oracle. All rights reserved.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I was advised last week that there was a problem with one of the codes on the form, and that the application would have to go through the approval process again.Since the application in September, a recruitment freeze has been instigated, and any new staff recruitment has to be submitted to a panel for approval. Because of this, the revised approval did not reach the directors inbox, and I was advised on Friday that the application for my contract extension would have to go in front of the panel. I'm told that it is unlikely that it will be approved.Because of the email above, I didn't start looking for another contract, and I now stand to lose significant earnings.My question is, what are the legal implications of the email above? Does it have any legal standing, and can I make any claim against the company?Thanks
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, thanks for coming back to me. The issue here really is whether this email, on its own, is sufficient to act as a formal extension of contract in a way that is legally binding on both parties.
Looking at the email itself it is somewhat lacking in detail and does not try and create a direct legal relationship with you. They state that the vacancy has been approved but this was an internal procedure and it only came to your attention by being forwarded by this person who only says that ‘it looks like’ all is approved. There is a distinct lack of certainty here and with the benefit of hindsight I would have advised that you go back to them and ask for a more formal confirmation, such as the issuance of a new contract or at least something in writing which formally confirms there was a new (or extended) contract in place.
Another issue is that a contract could become void if it was entered into in error. This is a complex legal area but in basic terms it means that if the parties had relied on a common error to enter into a contract, if it can be shown that this was a genuine error and both parties unwittingly relied on it to enter into a contractual relationship, it can be cancelled. Only a court can really decide whether the argument of ‘error’ can be used here but it is a potential defence that could be raised by the company if needed.
So as it stands, there is a certain degree of uncertainty as to whether a binding contract was actually created. There are arguments for both sides but nothing that would make me say you have a solid argument. As such, the only way this can be resolved in the event there is no meeting of minds is to go to court and let a judge make the decision. As this should only be seen as a last resort, I strongly suggest you start negotiations with the company directly. Do not raise any of the issues of ‘error’ as that would not work in your favour and instead concentrate on the fact that their communications contained a form of approval on which you placed reliance to your detriment. Ask them to reconsider their position and offer you the contract, at least to cover the period you lost in order to look for other opportunities or to consider compensating you for it.
Remember that you also have a duty t mitigate your losses straight away so must start looking for new work as soon as possible. You cannot claim ongoing losses from tis employer if you could have reduced your losses by finding new work but failed to do so.
In the end, if no agreement can be reached, your only option is to consider going to court and trying your luck there. I say trying your luck because as discussed above there is nothing definitive that would allow you to claim there was a legally binding contract in place and each side will have an argument to try and get a decision in their favour. However, the legal route is an option if you wish to take this further eventually.
I hope this has answered your query and apologies again for the issues experienced yesterday. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45343
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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