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JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I'm trying to decide how to proceed with a claim I've lodged

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I'm trying to decide how to proceed with a claim I've lodged (or technically, my 18-year-old son has lodged) in the small claims court. Last November he was contacted by an employment agency, unsolicited, who offered him a job interview. He did the interview the following day and on the following working day started a new job on the promise of 18k a year - a dream for a young man with few qualifications and completing an apprenticeship. He left his apprenticeship to start the job. The trouble is, he wasn't given a contract or anything in writing. And then it turned out that the employer hadn't approved the new post, local managers have overstepped their authority in employing him. Unable to pay him at the promised rate, they instead asked the employment agency to take him on as a temp, on a lower rate and with no job security or benefits - although none of that was made clear to my son. After 3 weeks they abruptly asked him to quit with immediate effect.I pursued the job agency, initially just to chase up the unpaid element of his pay (ie to make it up to the rate that had originally been agreed). I tried to get the agency to put me in touch with somebody at their client's organisation, or even to reveal the legal identity of that organisation, but they would not. So I lodged a claim in the Small Claims Court, against the agency as I could not sue their client without knowing their identity. And in lodging the claim I thought I'd ask for £3k compensation for Jon's loss of earnings as between them the agency and their client had encouraged him to leave his previous employment. In fact his confidence was so knocked by the whole experience that he hasn't even looked for work since, he's on disability benefits.In the meanwhile - ie after we lodged the claim - the agency did pay up the unpaid wages (about £300) and they have also revealed the identify of their client.A hearing has now been arranged and the agency is seeking to buy us of for £200, arguing that we have no chance of succes in court. So I have some questions:
1) can the small claims court award for Jon's loss of earnings? Or is that a consequential loss that the small claims court won't consider?
2) is it reasonable for us to go after the agency given that they shielded their client? Or should I accept their £200 and now sue the client instead, given that I now know who they are?
3) Jon in 18 and will be limited in his ability to represent himself in court - I'm hoping to attend with him and speak for him. Will I be allowed to do that? Or will perhaps our witness statements be sufficient to make our case?Many thanks for any help you can offer with this.
JA: Have you discussed this wage-and-hour issue with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: No sorry it's not a wage-and-hour issue. I'm not sure you have read and understood what I have written?
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: OK I think you're a computer and that I need to end this conversation now!
JA: Yes, I'm a bot. I make the process of talking to the lawyer more efficient and affordable by asking basic questions. Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No please do connect me.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I am a qualified lawyer happy to help you today.

To answer those in turn :

1. By turning up for work, there is an implied contract and if they do not pay him, this is breach of contract and yes you can avail of the small claims track in the county court to attempt recovery The claim should also include any other reasonably-incurred losses;

2. yes, as you had no choice but to sue the agency. It is a good sign they are offering to settle. The court will take a sympathetic view of your Son's circumstances. It would be a bit late now to amend the claim form to include the company as second defendant. You could do this but if the court says the agency was not at fault, you could issue fresh proceedings against the company (the time frame is 6 years from the date of breach of contract so you would have time).

3. witness statements would be fine. He can attend with you - I presume you have also served a Certificate of Suitability given your son is still classed as a minor.

I hope this helps - if you can please accept the answer and give me a 5 star rating (there should be a button on your screen to do this), I can answer follow up Q&A's at no extra charge and Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi Jim - many thanks for your quick response. Can I just follow up on a couple of points please? I will give you a good rating I promise!
1) you confim that the claim can include any other "reasonably-incurred losses" - do you agree that my son's loss of earnings - due to him leaving his previous apprenticeship to take on this job - is a "reasonably-incurred loss"?
2) you mention that my son is a minor but surely he isn't - he's 18 (and will be 19 by the time this comes to court)?

Hi again, yes because a claimant can claim for any losses incurred (which are reasonable) as a result of the defendant's breach. The court will ask the question of what those losses are and whether they were reasonably incurred. I would include it as if you do not, the court will not award it.

Regarding his age, yes you are correct - sorry I thought he was under 18 for some reason - he is classed as an adult now so he is able to give evidence. His witness statement should contain all details and would be his evidence in chief. The hearing would be : the district judge, yourself and your Son, the defendant (and any of their witnesses). You wouldn't need a lawyer - indeed the lawyer's fees are not recoverable if this is a small claim with a value under £10,000. The judge will ask a few questions and the defendant will have to explain themselves.

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