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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48149
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have taken my employer, a large UK university, to tribunal

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I have taken my employer, a large UK university, to tribunal for unfair dismissal and less favourable treatment as part timer - I am an hourly paid lecturer on a zero hours contract. My employer wants the claims struck out at a Pre Hearing Review in August. My case is legally interesting on several grounds and the current topicality of ZHCs should attract media interes in my case. A skilled writer, I wrote a 1200 word feature to send to a national newspaper. I avoided psub judice particulars but sketched out the case against ZHCs before outlining the grouds on which my case IS legally interesting and may create case law. Finding the rules on contempt of court less clear cut than I'd initially supposed, I emailed the feature to the Tribunal Court to ask if it would land me in trouble. They replied to say this was not their job. Any advice?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Before proceeding please note that as I am a practising solicitor, I am often in and out of meetings, travelling between clients or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance but there may be a delay in getting back to you and providing my advice. Please be patient and I will respond as soon as I can. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email when I have responded. For now please let me know how long you have worked there.

Customer:

As an associate lecturer since 2006

Ben Jones :

Under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 it is an offence to engage in publications, which may interfere with the course of justice in particular legal proceedings regardless of intent to do so. Publications, which are covered are those which create a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced and covers any publications made from the time the proceedings in question are active.


 


In your case you have an active tribunal claim and as such you should have refrained from making any such publications whilst the case is ongoing. Whilst a tribunal claim is public and any information discussed in it will become public knowledge, this is only applicable once the information has been dealt with by the tribunal and examined in an open hearing. If all you have done so far is submit your claim but not had the tribunal hearing yet then this is not public information and disclosing details of the case at that stage can be contrary to your legal obligations detailed above.


 


There would have been nothing wrong in disclosing any of this once the case has been finalised and a decision has been made but when this has not happened yet. It is therefore possible for the other party to seek a strike out of the claim if they believe that it is no longer possible to have a fair hearing in the proceedings as that is one of the potentially fair grounds for strike out. However, that would be for the tribunal to decide when they meet at the upcoming PHR.

Ben Jones :

has your query been answered?

Customer:

Not quite. I have not sent the piece so it is as yet unpublished. How far may I go in publicising my case? May I send press releases that a case is to be heard on [date] which is of topical interest (zero hours contracts) and legal interest (GENERAL comment that it involves aspects of employment law not previouisly tested)?

Ben Jones :

To be covered, there has to be a publication, which would include "any speech, writing, broadcast or other communication in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public", So if you make a publication accessible by the public or a section of it, such as your peers, then it would qualify. If you simply mention the topic of the case, date , etc and do not provide any other details, in effect making a very general broadcast about it, that should not be detailed enough to affect it and would not be contempt of court. However, I advise you to be economic wit the details you provide.

Ben Jones :

has this clarified things for you?

Customer:

Yes. Thanks

Ben Jones :

My pleasure, all the best

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