Motorola in talks with staff over 3,100 job lossesOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. A consultative forum of Motorola workers and management has met to discussthe 3,100 job losses at its factory in Scotland. The Motorola cuts, announced last week, follow Ericsson’s decision to axe 10,000posts worldwide as the downturn in the US economy continues to bite. A spokesman for Motorola, which is not unionised, said the company hasalready started the consultative process with its workers at its Bathgatefactory in East Lothian, Scotland. The company has offered legal training to the 15 elected representativesfrom the workforce on the consultative forum who met with management includingHR senior managers to look at ways of reducing the impact of redundancies onthe local economy. These include the organisation of outplacement packages and details ofseverance pay. Swedish firm Ericsson is in the middle of talks with the AmalgamatedElectrical and Engineering Union over plans to cut jobs. As Personnel Today went to press, a meeting between Ericsson’s managementand union officials took place to discuss the number of jobs in the UKaffected. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article
Related posts:No related photos. Government should take the time to listenOn 1 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article WithLabour once again in Government, we ask what hopes and fears employers have forthe legislation affecting them. What did Labour get right on employment lawduring ITS first term and where did IT go wrong? Compiled by Sarah-Jane North Peter Reid Head of Peter Reid Consulting, consultancy on UK and European employmentlegislation My hope is quite simple – that the Government will allow more time between decidingnew rules and their date for implementation, to enable HR managers to planahead properly for the changes. What I fear is the lack of joined-up thinkingon employment issues and the lack of a coherent ideology. But my real fear is of the Euro-paranoia among employers. Employers worryabout overly intrusive legislation from Brussels and automatically see it as achallenge rather than an opportunity for change. They automatically assume thatall European legislation is negative. We could learn a lot from Europe and other countries, but we are growing avery narrow outlook and only look in a very limited way at what is happening incountries such as the US. For example, we talk up the free market policies inthe US, ignoring the impact and cost consequences of their anti-discriminationlegislation. We need to address and better understand how others handle issues such asmass redundancies. It is not good enough to simply say that it is hard to makepeople redundant in Germany and easy in the UK. HR needs to become far moresophisticated in managing difficult issues and come up with far betterarguments for their actions than they have in the past. We analysed the election manifestos of the main political parties andstrikingly, none of them were prepared to commit themselves to anything. Labour had clear proposals on the link between family and working life butthis will be developed on the social security front rather than within theemployment field. More pertinent to Labour’s second term is the fact that there are just asmany outstanding EU directives to be implemented in the UK, six to be precise,as there were when they came to power in 1997. And all six are to beimplemented in the next six years. This makes it even more urgent that they focuson and understand that companies need to plan for implementation and developstrategies. Robbie GilbertChief executive of the Employers’ Forum on Statute and PracticeOur focus is very much on thetranslation of Labour’s mandate into legislation. They had considerableproblems in their first term with regards to effective consultation. It wasalso a problem with implementing EU directives into UK law. Typically they havehad three years to translate directives into UK law but we have not beengetting the opportunity for consultation that would make the legislationpractical. Such has been the case with the Working Time directive, through nowto the Burden of Proof directive. In their manifesto Labour promised to review the impact andworking of major pieces of law within three years of implementation and toimprove the quality of regulation impact assessments. They have suggested thepossible introduction of external audits on regulation impact assessments andwe would welcome that because these have become laughably inadequate. Nick IslesSpokesman for the Industrial SocietyWe need sensible regulation andregulation that is delivered by a more refined and sophisticated process thanwe have seen of late. We have a prime opportunity to do that with the directiveon consultation, to put in place a way of doing business that helps companiesto do business. We need regulation that is sensitive, that has a “made inBritain” feel and that employers feel happy about. The Industrial society hasalways been a champion of sensible regulation, but what we have had of late isa sterile debate, a networked animosity between the social partners. We need aprocess of delivering a regulatory system that people feel is working. There is no under-swell of objection from the majority ofemployers to regulation, just to the lack of time they have to deal with it.There is a the need for data on how employers are delivering in areas wherethere is no regulation so that we can accurately target regulation in the future.Gerwyn DaviesSpokesman for the CIPDWe conducted a survey of our membersat the time of the election and the clear message that came from that was”enough is enough”. The majority do not have any quibbles with theregulations implemented to date, but they are saying we now need a period ofconsolidation. Our main hope for Labour’s second term is that any workplacelegislation is minimised.In terms of the prominent issues of equal pay and ageism, thereare European directives to be followed in the coming few years and we feel thatLabour has done a good job of raising general awareness in these areas,postponing legislation until a suitable time. We are involved with the Governmentin the Age Positive campaign to raise awareness and alert employers to theissues of ageism.If we had a criticism it would be that consultation times, insome areas, have not been long enough to get satisfactory responses fromorganisations such as ourselves.John MonksTUC president Labour achieved much for people atwork in their first term but I hope that in their second term they follow theapproach of the minimum wage and low pay commissions, rather than theovercomplicated Working Time regulations’ precedent. The new commission on work-life balance, to be chaired byGeorge Bain, is a welcome extension of the social partnership approach. I hopenow all sides work to accept the new European Information and Consultationdirective and that employers, unions and government will work together to makethis an effective reality, but within UK traditions. Comments are closed.
This week’s guruFrench labour relations blown out of proportionGuru waxed lyrical last week on the cultural differences between English andFrench business. A new report showed despite all being Europeans there is stillmutual distrust. Well, let’s hope that English workers share this suspicion because ifthey’re influenced by the French approach to industrial relations then we’reall in trouble. Staff at a microwave factory in Cormelles-le-Royal were so angry at thefinancial troubles of the parent company – Moulinex – that they set fire to thebuilding last week. But not content with this, they then threatened to blow up the rest withmakeshift bombs, and kidnapped a government mediator in Paris to push forbetter redundancy packages. “It’s just another stage in the labourrelations,” was the authorities’ surprising response. The cap fits, but the face doesn’t Guru wanted to be a TV reporter when he first started in journalism manyyears ago. Unfortunately, after his first on-the-scene report he was told thathe had a face for radio. Then after embarking on a career as the news anchormanat a local radio station, he was told he had a voice for print. So Guru has a lot of sympathy for the youngster who tried to get a job athis local Kentucky Fried Chicken in Newcastle, only to be told that his facewasn’t suitable for working behind a till. The red-headed 18-year-old claimedhe was told to look for outdoor work, which is a bit rich considering ColonelSaunders is hardly a catwalk model. Reward your staff with gold How can Government quangos compete for talent with spiralling bonuses andshare options in the City? Pay staff in gold bullion, of course. It was revealed last week that the BBC decided to remunerate one valuedmember of staff with gold – apparently it used to be a very tax efficienttechnique. But before you force your boss to high tail it to Hatton Garden,Guru warns you that the authorities have already closed this loophole. MPs scream for nice ice cream Guru is glad to see MPs have finally got their priorities right, and are nolonger wasting their time reading through the small print of the newly releasedEmployment Bill. A motion has been signed by 17 MPs, calling for Mr Creemy Ice Cream to beserved in the Commons dining rooms. Dancing queens wanted, apply withinGuru is worried about the launch of a new nightclub in Harrogate. A month onfrom the annual CIPD conference, Guru was just starting to forget all thedrunken incidents in which he embarrassed himself when he found out that worsecould be in store for him next year. In October, HR professionals were subjected to an Abba tribute band but nextyear there will be a different kind of dancing queen. Lap dancing chainSpearmint Rhino is opening its doors in the town this week and is looking for30 staff to join its ranks. Guru is not the only concerned party about the newresidents – the local job centre has banned the lap dancing firm fromadvertising for fear of embarrassing its job seekers. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. French labour relations blown out of proportionOn 20 Nov 2001 in Personnel Today
Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. …in briefOn 4 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. This week’s news in briefAge diversity drive Pensions Minister Ian McCartney has launched a website to provide practicalhelp for employers and staff on ending age discrimination at work. TheDepartment for Work and Pensions has also published an evaluation of thevoluntary code of practice on age diversity in the run up to new laws in 2006. www.agepositive.gov.ukYouth training target The Government has called on employers to help increase the number of youngpeople on Modern Apprenticeship schemes. It is working with the Learning and Skills Council to deliver a range ofrecommendations by the Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee, aimed atencouraging more than a quarter of young people to enter apprenticeships beforethey are 22 by 2004. www.dfes.gov.uk/modapp/E-policies trend Nearly two-thirds of HR departments have introduced policies on e-mail andInternet use in the past four years, research claims. The IRS Employment Reviewalso reveals that almost all employers have a formal HR policy on employeediscipline and grievances and are least likely to have policies on work-lifebalance. www.irseclipse.co.ukHSE prosecutions The Health and Safety Executive’s second annual Offences and PenaltiesReport shows there were 1,500 separate health and safety offences by public,private and voluntary organisations and individuals during 2000/2001. In thisperiod the HSE prosecuted 2,077 offences, successfully gaining convictions for70 per cent. www.hse-databases.co.uk/prosecutionsRail staff in ballot South West Trains staff could vote to strike over Christmas followingdisputes over pay and conditions and the way the company operates itsdisciplinary procedures. RMT will ballot its 2,100 South West Trains membersthis week on pay and conditions, although only 660 train guards and driverswill vote on the dispute over disciplinary procedures.
Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Thisweek Tracy Myhill, director of HR, Gwent Community Health NHS Trust andpresident of the Association of Healthcare Human Resource Management, andFrancesca Okosi, director of HR, London Borough of Brent and president of theSociety of Personnel Officers in Local Government compare notes on their careers1What are your main responsibilities?TMAs HR director for a National Health Service community trust (Gwent CommunityHealthcare NHS Trust) it is employing 11,500 staff with an annual turnover of£280m. The trust covers acute, community, learning disability and mental healthservices. FOI am responsible for the London Borough of Brent’s human resources andconsultancy services. This area covers all aspects of people management,equality/diversity and organisational developments, as well as generalmanagement consultancy support to the council. 2.What’s the pay like?TMAround £70,000. It is enough to go on three holidays a year but still notenough to stay out of debt!FOThe pay is OK.3How flexible are the hours?TMIt is a full-time post with directors being expected to work as necessary tofulfil the role. Working flexibly around child and other commitments is left tothe director to manage, but is fully supported by the chief executive. Successis measured by contribution and outcome, not presenteeism.FOFlexible in so far as the working time directive does not apply and I amlucky that there are only 24 hours in a day.4What do you like about the job?TMThe wide scope and constant challenges of a very complex organisation with adiverse workforce in a service with unlimited opportunities to learn anddevelop.FOIt is diverse, challenging and there is a real opportunity to make a differenceto the organisation.5What are the challenges?TMRecruiting and retaining staff, life-long development of individuals tocontribute to an ever-changing health service, keeping up-to-date with clinicaland medical changes, and managing a ‘million’ agendas – both national and local– at the same time.FOThere are a number of challenges in local government right now, including theneed to modernise services and the drive for continuous improvement. The peoplemanagement implications are numerous. We are dealing with such issues asdiversity, recruitment and retention, pay, management development and so on.But I guess the real challenge has been rebuilding a viable service which hadbeen decimated in the 1990s, and doing it with limited resources.6What is your biggest headache?TMWorkload and time (not enough).FORemuneration and supporting effective management of change.7What size is your team? TMStaff of 60, including personnel, training and development, workforce planning,nurse education, medical staffing and administrative and support staff.FOWe are 29 strong, which includes non-HR staff – one of the smallest in Londonlocal government.8Who do you report to?TMThe chief executive.FOI report to the chief executive.9What qualifications do you have?TMMBA and CIPD.FOO and A levels 10What are your career aspirations?TMHR director with a national role or chief executive, not sure yet.FOI would like to complete the work I have started at Brent. My long-term careeraspirations would include broadening my experience outside local government ineither central government or the private sector, and not necessarily in HRalone. I think becoming a chief executive of a quango would be challenging andrewarding.11What training and development opportunities are there?TMInfinite, if you want to take them.FOAs well as affording me the privilege of representing my peers, my role inSocpo has provided me with one of the greatest learning and developmentopportunities I have had in my career to date. It has enabled me to getinvolved in a national agenda which encompasses areas outside HR as well asfurthering the cause of local government.12What is your holiday entitlement?TMSix weeks plus 10 bank holidays.FO30 days.13What’s your working environment like?TMNever enough accommodation in health premises due to the demands for clinicalspace, but OK.FOI work with hard working, committed staff.14What other benefits do you get? (company car and so on) TMContribution to a lease car.FONone.15What’s the best part?TMThe freedom to make a difference.FOReceiving position feedback from front- line staff and middle managers.16How does your firm treat work-life balance?TMAll the policies are good and in place and personally, I am very happy. I amnot convinced they are universally applied to the 11,500 staff though.FOWe offer flexible working, but have targeted this as an area we need to developfurther and will be doing so this year.17Who do you most envy? (what’s your dream job) TMInfluential, competent, professional women in top jobs but who retain theirpersonalities and humane characteristics. I can’t think of a dream job I want.FOMy dream job changes with the weather. I have always wanted to be apresenter, maybe Jeremy Paxman style, however over recent months I have decidedthat I most envy Anne Robinson. Not only has she overcome personal adversity,become a millionaire in her late 50s and wears Armani, but she also gets paidfor telling people what she really thinks of them. Great!TracyMyhill Director of HR, Gwent Community Health NHS Trust and president of theAssociation of Healthcare Human Resource ManagementJobat a glanceSize of team 60Qualifications CIPD and MBALeave 30 daysBest part Having the freedom to make a differenceCurriculum Vitae 1999 Director of HR in Gwent1996 Deputy director of HR in an acute and community healthcare Trust inCardiff (Llandough)1993 Senior personnel officer commissioning a new maternity unit1991 Personnel officer undertaking operational personnel role in a hospitalFrancescaOkosiDirector of HR, London Borough of Brent and president of the Society ofPersonnel Officers in Local GovernmentJobat a glanceSize of team 29Qualifications O and A levelsLeave 30 daysBest part Receiving position feedback from front line staff and middle managersCurriculumVitae 1999 Director of HR, London Borough of Brent1997 Head of HR, London Borough of Merton1995 Head of HR strategy, London Borough of Havering1994 Personnel strategy planner, London Borough of Havering Head to headOn 30 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article
Simplified employment laws are welcome ideaOn 20 Aug 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Plans by the Government to simplify the employment law landscape have beenwelcomed by employer groups. The proposals include the creation of a new cross-DTI project team to ensureall policymakers consider alternatives to regulations first, such as bestpractice guidelines. The recommendations, which are in response to the Better Regulation TaskForce report Em-ployment Regulation: Striking a Balance, also include theexpansion of the DTI regulatory impact unit to ensure regulations are fair andworkable for all sectors. Robbie Gilbert, chief executive of the Employers Forum on Statute andPractice, was encou-raged by the proposals, but he stressed it was importantthe Government demonstrated its commitment to reducing legislation in practice.”Why always jump to regulation first rather than attempting to makechanges through best practice guidelines?” he asked. The CIPD welcomed the recommendations. Lead adviser on public policy for theCIPD, Diane Sinclair, said: “We hope the new cross-DTI impact team willchallenge proposals and ensure the alternatives are considered. We would likethis team to also look at how ‘joined up’ regulations are, and would need toconsider all issues affecting employment.” The proposals also include plans to improve guidance on how to comply withlegislation, and to fund a shared HR resource for small firms. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.
Previous Article Next Article Probation service investigation into CRB slip-upOn 3 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. TheHR director at the London Probation Service has been put on special leave afterit was revealed more than 200 new recruits had not undergone criminal recordchecks.Theemployees, who are mostly trainee probation officers, should have been vettedby the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) before being allowed to work withcriminals.Afull investigation into the incident has been launched.Aprobation service spokeswoman said the HR director at the service, RichardMycroft, was “on special leave to free him up for the investigation”.Checkson the unvetted recruits are being fast-tracked, and should be finished by theend of this month, she said.JohnPowls, chief officer of the London Probation Area, said: “We are dealingwith the matter as an urgent and very serious issue. Procedures have alreadybeen put in place to manage possible risks. “Wehave commissioned an external investigation and review by the NationalProbation Directorate (NPD) to establish why this has happened and to confirmthat our current procedures meet the NPD standards.”Theincident is another in a list of slip-ups involving the CRB.Lastmonth, the company that runs the bureau, Capita, was fined £2m for its failings.Thefine came after the company failed to meet the required three-week turnaroundtime for processing checks on teachers and others working with children andvulnerable adults.Thedelays have seen the NHS abandon tens of thousands of checks, if managers areconfident staff have come from an agency or previous employer where theybelieve checks were in place.www.crb.gov.uk
On the moveOn 8 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article DavidLloyd Leisure has confirmed the arrival of a new HR director and board member.Louise Smalley joins the Whitbread-owned health club from within the group. Shewas formerly Whitbread Restaurants’ reward director, and prior to that was HR directorfor the Beefeater brand. She also has extensive experience of the brandedleisure retail business after previous stints with PepsiCo and Esso. Thecompany employs more than 4,500 staff, including 400 fitness instructors, whoare all trained in-house at a purpose-built campus.GlobalHome Loans (GHL), the third-party mortgage administrator, has appointed KarenMcKenzie-Irvine (pictured right) as head of learning and development. She joinsfrom the training and development team at AMP UK financial services.McKenzie-Irvine will be responsible for embedding the newly formed learning anddevelopment structure at the company. She will also oversee the department’srepositioning as a strategic partner to support GHL in delivering its strategicand operational objectives.Luxuryhotel company The Savoy Group has appointed Sara Edwards as group HR director.The firm, owned by the Blackstone Group, has made her responsible fordeveloping a new HR strategy that reflects changes in the employment environment. Edwards’ job title willbe group HR director of the Savoy Group of Hotels and Restaurants, although shewill also be HR director of the Savoy Hotel. She joins from Claridges where she was HR director. Related posts:No related photos.
Case round upOn 30 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Case round-up by Eversheds 020 7919 4500Stress and constructive dismissal Marshall Specialist Vehicles Limited v Osborne, EAT, 30 April 2003 Osborne was a high-level financial director for Marshall Specialist Vehicles(MSV). As a result of the company getting into difficulties, she and hercolleagues took on extra work and worked long hours – without complaint, and ofher own accord. Eventually, Osborne resigned because of being overworked, which led to anervous breakdown, and successfully claimed constructive dismissal. The tribunal implied a term into her employment contract that an employermust not impose on an employee, or acquiesce in their assumption of, a workloadwhich it is reasonably foreseeable may cause physical or mental injury. MSV hadtherefore fundamentally breached this implied term. MSV appealed. The EAT upheld the appeal. The tribunal had manufactured an implied termwhich it then found the employer had breached. A general term is implied in allemployment contracts that the employer should take reasonable care for thehealth and safety of its employees. To succeed in a constructive dismissal case based on a breach of this term,an employee must: a) establish that the risk of injury was foreseeable, (b) establish theemployer was in breach of its duty, and (c) establish this breach amounted to afundamental breach of the employment contract. However, in Osborne’s case, there was insufficient evidence of stress toenable her to succeed under the common law principles which applied inSutherland v Hatton case: the harm to Osborne was not reasonably foreseeable,taking into account such factors as the nature and extent of the employee’swork, costs and practicality of preventing harm, and the size of the employer. The tribunal had not considered all the relevant questions, and the case wasremitted back to a fresh tribunal. Worker on temporary assignment did not transfer Securiplan v Bademosi, EAT, 9 May 2003 Bademosi worked for Securiplan as a security officer at a site owned byCable & Wireless (C&W) for 21 years. Following an accident at work in July 2000, he was unfit to work untilNovember. As there was no vacancy for him to return to at C&W, hereluctantly began working on a temporary basis (expressly agreed at the outset)at Marylebone Magistrates Court in January 2001. On 3 December 2001, Bademosi was told he would return to C&W in January2002. However, on 6 December, while he wasn’t at work, the court contract wasawarded to another employer. The return date to C&W was confirmed by aletter dated 7 December, but Bademosi didn’t receive it until 13 December. Meanwhile, Bademosi received a call from his supervisor informing him thecourt contract had been terminated. As he had not been allocated any new work,he resigned on 11 December with immediate effect, and successfully claimedunfair constructive dismissal and breach of contract by Securiplan. The tribunal held that Bademosi’s rights had not transferred under TUPE, butSecuriplan appealed. The EAT dismissed the appeal. Bademosi’s assignment to the court wasexpressly agreed to be temporary. He wasn’t assigned to the court contract atthe time of the transfer. His contract didn’t terminate by reason of thetransfer; he would revert to his duties at the C&W site or to othertemporary assignments. Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article
Comments are closed. TheCourt of Appeal has issued new guidelines to limit the time and financialdamage done to employers and defendants in vexatious litigation cases. Colin GibsonreportsEmployersoften spend considerable time and money dealing with vexatious litigants –individuals, with no legal representation, who abuse the court system in thehope of settling a personal grudge against the company. These people appeal andre-litigate repeatedly even though their claims are doomed to failure. Traditionally,the courts have done their best to give these litigants a fair hearingregardless of the hopelessness of their claims. Butthe Court of Appeal has finally run out of patience. In Bhamjee v Forstick andOthers (No 2) the Court of Appeal, having recognised the inconvenience causedto both courts and defendants by these repeat litigants, produced newguidelines to limit this damage. These guidelines were created primarily toprotect the court but will be welcomed by employers, and any other parties,dealing with vexatious litigants.Whoare vexatious litigants?Vexatiouslitigants are individuals who bring court proceedings repeatedly, or appealrepeatedly in existing proceedings, with claims based on the same facts oragainst the same people. The claim will have no chance of succeeding andvarious tribunals, courts and appeal courts will have told the litigant this onnumerous occasions. LordBingham CJ described vexatious claims as follows: “The hallmark of a vexatiousproceeding is, in my judgment, that it has little or no basis in law (or atleast no discernable basis); that, whatever the intention of the proceeding maybe, its effect is to subject the defendant to inconvenience, harassment andexpense out of all proportion to any gain likely to accrue to the claimant; andthat it involves an abuse of the process of the court.”Attackfrom a persistent serial litigant is stressful, time-consuming and expensivefor employers. Employees of the target company may spend hundreds of hoursfielding litigation and subject access requests under the Data Protection Act.These employees may even find that they are added to the litigation. Thejudiciary and court administrative staff also spend significant amounts of timedealing with serial litigants. And ironically, legal fees spent dealing withthese vexatious claims are often not recoverable as the litigant can rarelyafford to pay them. Theneed to consider all claims fairly, in the interests of justice, has madedealing with vexatious litigants difficult. But this need must be balancedagainst the desire to prevent defendants and the courts suffering majorinconvenience at the hands of serial litigants. The question is where thebalance should be struck. Before the case of Ismail Abdullah Bhamjee theadvantage appeared to fall with the vexatious litigant.TheBhamjee caseTheBhamjee case presents a classic example of the vexatious litigant. It began inDecember 1999 after a planning inspector upheld a local authority’s denial ofBhamjee’s request to use his rear yard for car washing, valeting and servicing,carpet upholstery, cleaning and the pumping out of flood water. Bhamjeemade multiple applications, involving numerous parties, in respect of thisdecision and in a separate claim against Norwich Union Insurance Company, upuntil May 2003. During this period, he paid the Court of Appeal six visits (asthe Court described the hearings).Havingexhausted his options with the planning inspector and the Norwich Union,Bhamjee went on to issue proceedings against the barristers who acted againsthim in the litigation. The proceedings were, unsurprisingly, dismissed soBhamjee paid a further visit to the Court of Appeal.Itwas after this appeal was dismissed that a three-judge Court of Appeal wasconvened to work out what could be done to stop Bhamjee and his seriallitigation attempts. At the same time, the Court of Appeal reviewed the lawconcerning vexatious litigants in general.Thecourts’ approach pre-Bhamjee Traditionally,the courts have used a combination of harsh statutory sanction and vague commonlaw remedies. The power to make a Civil Proceedings Order (CPO), under Section42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981, has always been viewed as a last resort. Themain features of a CPO are as follows:–Only the attorney-general, or someone acting on his behalf, can apply for a CPO–A CPO can only be made where the litigant has “habitually and persistently andwithout any reasonable ground” instituted “vexatious civil proceedings” or“vexatious applications”–A CPO forbids the vexatious litigant from starting or continuing any proceedingwithout the High Court’s permission–The High Court must be convinced that there are reasonable grounds for theproceedings or application and that they do not represent an abuse of processbefore permission will be granted–A CPO will last indefinitely unless given an “expiry date”–If the High Court refuses permission there is no right of appeal.TheCPO sounds like an ideal weapon for fighting the vexatious litigant. However,it has been viewed as draconian and rarely used. It should be noted that thedefendant to a vexatious proceeding cannot decide to apply for a CPO – only theattorney-general has this power.Thecourt has had an inherent power to prevent abuses of process and has developedways of doing this through case law. For example, the Grepe v Loam orderprevented the litigant from making further applications in a particular set ofexisting proceedings without first obtaining the court’s permission.Anextended version of the order could be made in more severe cases. Thisprevented the litigant from taking any step, including issuing new proceedings,in any court against a particular set of defendants or stemming from certainfacts. The courts were also free to add further conditions to these orders,where necessary. Unfortunately, the courts have been reluctant to issue theseorders.Freshimpetus neededClearly,the courts have not fully used the available measures for dealing with seriallitigants. They have generally taken the time to listen carefully to thelitigant’s claim or application before dismissing it, hoping this will give thelitigant some sort of closure.Butthe litigant will have caused both the courts and the defendant considerableinconvenience, and expense in the case of the defendant, on the way to thehearing of the claim or application. The defendant can obtain a costs order atthe hearing but these are often not worth enforcing if the litigant in questionhas no money.InBhamjee, the Court of Appeal took two significant steps forward:–The pulling together of current law by re-naming the existing range of ordersand adding a new order to the arsenal–The Court of Appeal has encouraged the courts to use these newly-named orderswithout delay and make them of their own motion where appropriate. Thesecond point is the most important. The courts must become proactive in usingthe new range of orders to stop serial litigants clogging up the court systeminstead of allowing them to abuse the system at the expense and inconvenienceof others.Thenew range of ordersThisrange of orders is not completely new as some of them had already grown out ofcase law. But what the Court of Appeal has done in Bhamjee, is give the ordersnew names and guidelines for their use.Theorders open to the courts when dealing with a vexatious litigant are:–Striking out under CPR 3.3 and 3.4Courtstaff should refer a claim or application, which appears to be vexatious, to ajudge who can then decide whether it should be struck out as entirely withoutmerit. A national register of these strikeout orders has been suggested by theCourt of Appeal.–Civil Restraint Order (CRO)Thiswas formerly a Grepe v Loam order. A CRO may be issued by any judge, of his orher own motion, and bars the litigant from making any further applications inthe same matter without getting the court’s permission first. The CRO will lastas long as the proceedings are pending.–Extended Civil Restraint Order (E-CRO)TheE-CRO was previously known as an extended Grepe v Loam order. This orderextends the provisions of the CRO by preventing the issue of new proceedingsagainst certain defendants or with regards to a certain set of facts. This typeof order can be made at Court of Appeal, High Court or county court level andcan be made to cover the court making it and any lower court.Itis a severe order so should not be made for any longer than two years. TheCourt of Appeal’s view on the use of these orders is clear: “Because thenuisance represented by vexatious litigants is steadily increasing, we considerthat the courts should now be more willing to make extended civil restraintorders.”Forthe record, Bhamjee was made the subject of a two-year extended civil restraintorder with a civil proceedings order on the way.–General Civil Restraint Order (G-CRO) This is a completely new order that theCourt of Appeal introduced in Bhamjee. If the activities of a serial litigantare seriously draining a court’s resources, the judge can use this order tostop him or her from starting any action or making any application in thatparticular court without its permission.Theorder is not restricted to proceedings/applications against a specific group ofpeople or regarding specific facts. Again, it should not last for longer thantwo years.–No appealTheCourt of Appeal finally considered what should happen if a litigant, who issubject to an E-CRO or G-CRO, applies for permission to proceed over and overagain and is denied for the same reasons each time. Following Bhamjee, thecourt would be able to order that a decision denying permission is final andmay not be appealed.Howeffective will the new orders be?TheCourt of Appeal’s judgment in Bhamjee clarified and extended the range oforders that a court can use to deal with vexatious litigants. But, moreimportantly, the Court of Appeal has also encouraged the lower courts to makefull use of these orders.TheMaster of the Rolls has recommended that courts strike out claims they considerto be utterly misconceived without further consideration. He also recommendsthat judges bar individuals from further litigious activity, unless permissionis given, if they consider them sufficiently troublesome. The individual mayeither be barred from a certain set of proceedings or completely.Theseguidelines were produced primarily to protect the court but should also be usedby the court, and requested by defendants and their legal representatives, tosave defendants from harassment by vexatious litigants. Thegood news for employers faced with vexatious litigants is that the new orderscan be requested by the parties to an action, unlike the traditional CPO, whichcan only be requested by the attorney-general. Employersfacing these nuisance claims from disgruntled employees should ask theirlawyers if a CRO would be appropriate. Following Bhamjee, the answer is morelikely to be yes.ColinGibson is a commercial litigation lawyer at Field Fisher Waterhouse Previous Article Next Article New orderOn 1 Nov 2003 in Vexatious claims, Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.