LEGAL COSTS – can you recover them from your opponent after winning a legal dispute?

Kuldeep S. Clair, our senior Consultant Solicitor in Dispute Resolution and Employment Law offers his views on this important topic: 

This question is understandably a common initial concern for many clients when they are deciding whether to issue court / tribunal proceedings, and  also when they are defending proceedings against them. 

The rules are complex and not automatic. They depend on the discretion of the Judge, and on things like the nature of the claim and the particular court or tribunal that you are in. Let’s go through a few guidelines but please remember to refer to the exceptions I have outlined later as well: 

  1. Employment tribunals – you will not recover your legal costs if you win, and will not have to pay the other side’s legal costs if you lose either. 
  • Civil money claims of less than £10,000 – as above, apart from relatively nominal fixed amounts totaling probably a few hundred pounds in most cases. (The other side will pay your court fees.)
  • Civil money claims above £10,000 – You will usually be able to recover a large proportion of legal costs which are reasonably incurred. What that means is that there is still a duty on your solicitors to act reasonably in the conduct of a claim so that whatever shortfall payable by you is as small as possible.   
  • Other civil claims, such as landlord/tenant, employment, commercial claims, company disputes – as per 3 above. The court is more likely to award you costs in a matter which is of higher value, since judges do not want to encourage people to clog up the courts with low-value disputes. But the value of the claim is only one factor, and of course, disputes can concern many other issues than just money. 

All of these principles can be overridden by the basic exception which is that a court or tribunal may award costs against a party if he/she has behaved in a manner which is regarded by the Judge as appalling or un-co-operative, and which has increased the legal costs incurred by the other side. It is important to appreciate that this does not mean just by losing the case. Clearly someone always has to lose. It means seriously inappropriate behavior, such as pursuing a utterly hopeless or dishonest case which was absolutely bound to fail. Or using litigation as a device to abuse or harass an opponent. 

If you are advised by your lawyer that all your legal costs will definitely be covered or recovered from the other side, you should remain skeptical. I always advise my clients honestly and fully about the merits of their case and also about the position on costs.  There are no guarantees concerning costs, other than through certain kinds of legal insurance. The problem with that kind of ‘after-the-event’ insurance is that it is only suitable for certain kinds of situations and cases, and it is also quite expensive. I can discuss those options with you in detail. 

Your best bet is to have a solicitor who has the experience and perspective to give you honest, forthright advice about the positive and negative aspects of your case, to prepare your case thoroughly, and fight your case vigorously once you have given clear instructions.  

If you have any queries about a dispute, please feel free to contact me initially without obligation. 

Kuldeep S. Clair 

Consultant Solicitor

Employment, Dispute Resolution and Litigation

+44 (0) 7484 61 4090

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A Victory for Our Client in the Employment Tribunal

Our client was employed as a bus driver and had 18 years of continuous employment. He had a clean record with no warnings or incidents. 

While driving in the rain, he had been involved in one unexplained low-speed accident which resulted in a collision with three parked cars and a fence. This caused about £40,000 of damage. He believed that the brakes on his vehicle had failed, although the employer had carried out tests and found nothing to be wrong.

There was video evidence of the bus journey, including in the driver’s cab. This showed that he was obviously awake and not distracted at the time that the accident occurred. 

The cause of the accident could only be complete unexplained negligence by our client, the driver, but he did not accept that. He disputed it from the very first time that the employer interviewed him. The company dismissed him within a couple of weeks, and his internal appeal was also unsuccessful.  

Attempts to negotiate a compromise were unsuccessful and this led to a hearing recently at Watford Employment Tribunal. One of the large ‘magic circle’ City law firms and their specialist employment barrister opposed us all along. 

Our employment solicitor, Kuldeep Clair, handled the case for us, and also advocated at the tribunal.

The decision of the tribunal came a month after a three-day hearing. We pointed out how the company had not considered theoretical alternative explanations for the accident, and how disclosure of the brake test reports had come extraordinarily late. The company’s culture of hostility to lawyers representing employees was also criticised; their HR appeals manager had been uncooperative and failed to look at the original decision afresh. 

The negative side was the following:

The tribunal felt that the employer can conclude the brakes were not faulty. This is in the light of all of the evidence, and lack of a positive alternative explanation from the client.

Decisions to dismiss are rarely black and white. They need to fall in a ‘band of reasonable responses’. A tribunal will always be looking at the overall reasonableness of the employer’s decision taking account of the full circumstances.   

However, we were successful in pointing out the procedural irregularities throughout. The tribunal decided that if the employer had adopted a proper procedure, there was a 30% possibility that the employer’s decision might have been in favour of our client. So, he received only a proportion of his full damages. However, that was enough to cover the trial costs. He fought the case as a matter of principle, and so he was pleased with the result. He had few ongoing losses as he found an alternative job three months after being dismissed in any event.

If you would like advice on any aspect of employment or business law, please contact us directly:

Kuldeep S. Clair

Consultant Solicitor 

+44 7 484 614 090

Debt and Money Claims in the UK

Debt and Money Claims: personal or on behalf of businesses, whether you are pursuing or defending

We are accustomed to recovering money or defending claims for monetary sums on behalf of our clients.

Unfortunately, the fact that it is not possible to recover hardly any legal costs in cases in ‘small claims’ cases  means that it may not be worth instructing us unless, practically, the dispute involves a sum of at least £6,000.

Having said that, sometimes our clients want to pursue their debtor as a matter of principle, even if the net sum recovered for them is a small proportion of the total sum that was due. That is entirely understandable.

Not all debt claims end in success. There is often a lot of frustration along the way. The lawyer’s job is very difficult. But often, we are very successful.

Sterling Law have concluded a settlement in a case where we had been acting for an architect who had been dealing with a company in the building trade. Several of our client company’s invoices totaling almost £9,000 over the early part of 2018 had remained unpaid for 5-6 months, despite repeated demands for payment. The debtor had just completely ‘blanked’ our client.

We have now received the final instalment in payment from the debtor company in this case, against whom we obtained judgment. This has been paid to our client, the creditor company. Of course our client’s director has expressed his delight at the outcome. 


The defendant, despite being a highly qualified professional, ignored our two ‘letters before action.’ He then ignored our issue of the court proceedings. We then obtained ‘judgement-in-default’ against his company. He then sprung into action when was threatened to face enforcement of the judgement. Various excuses were made, including blaming his accountants for not receiving the letters and court papers on time, even though they were sent to the correct registered office of the company. Ultimately, the director threatened that he would dissolve his company unless we accepted half the sum due, in full and final settlement.

We were not going to be fobbed off by this nonsense and advised our client accordingly. We had no reason to believe that the defendant company was on the verge of insolvency, and if it was so, we questioned why the director had half the sum sitting in his bank account, available to be paid immediately.

Ultimately, we obtained agreement for half the debt under the judgement to be paid immediately (which it duly was, this week), and for the second half next month.

Our client was delighted with the result; a combination of litigation and tough negotiation achieved a great result. If we had merely launched into enforcing the judgment, it would have taken much longer to obtain the money and costs (payable by our client and not all recoverable from the other side) would have been higher.

If you have a dispute upon which you need advice, please contact us. We can either represent you in court or just provide advice at an initial consultation.

Please contact Kuldeep S. Clair, Consultant Solicitor and Advocate, directly:


Mobile: 07484 614090

Tel. 020 7822 8599

Can Tier 2 employees be furloughed?

Recently, the Government introduced Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which allows employers to put their employees on 80% salary (or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month, whichever is lower) furlough leave which subsequently will be reimbursed by the Government.

One of the main questions for businesses employing Tier 2 migrants is whether this category of employees can be furloughed without negative effects on their visas.

Our answer is YES, however certain pitfalls should be taken into account:

Apart from several exceptions, Tier 2 sponsored workers are required to be paid a certain minimum salary amount at all times in order to maintain their visa.

To date, the Home Office’s guidance on coronavirus immigration rule changes has been brief and there is no clear mention of furlough leave and maintenance of the minimum salary amount while the employee is furloughed. Currently, only unpaid leave is properly covered, however, The Home Office’s concession for unpaid leave does not apply to sponsored workers who are furloughed as they will still receive part of their pay. Updated Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors Guidance says:

If you cannot pay the salaries of sponsored employees because you’ve temporarily reduced or ceased trading

  • You can temporarily reduce the pay of your sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower.
  • Any reductions must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same.
  • These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least previous levels once these arrangements have ended.

Thus, although the Home Office is definitely allowing to put Sponsored workers on furlough and reduce their salary to 80%, it remains unclear whether the minimum salary threshold still applies for furloughed Tier 2 employees and, thus, if Tier 2 migrant’s annual salary is above £30,000 per annum the employer should pay on top of the 80% provided by the Government in order to furlough. Hopefully, the Home Office will provide further guidance on this rule soon since most of the Tier 2 workers receive a higher salary in accordance with Immigration Rules requirements. In the meantime, we advise that furloughed Tier 2 employee salary should not drop below the required threshold.

However please note that if Tier 2 employee is on the sick leave due to Coronavirus outbreak the salary can drop below the required minimum for this specified period.

The employers can consider reduction in hours for their Tier 2 employees as an alternative, but again, the salary cannot fall below the relevant Tier 2 visa category minimum due to this reduction. In addition, any change of salary should be reported to the Home Office via SMS portal.

Read our COVID-19 blog for more details on employment and immigration changes and challenges due to Coronavirus outbreak.

07 305 966 531

Electronic signature validity

How do electronic signature platforms work?

There are simple platforms that allow you to sign documents and deeds. All the signatories will access the documents via a link. After the parties sign a document, the platform will receive core information such as the signatory’s email address, IP address, date and time of access. When all the signatures are complete, the document is saved as a read-only PDF. Even if any changes to it are made, later on, there will be highlights to them.

The validity of  a contract that has been signed electronically

 For the contract to be valid in common law there is a need to establish offer, acceptance, consideration and intention to be bound. The question arises whether an electronic signature can actually represent an intention to be bound. The platforms usually indicate that in order to agree to contact, a person needs to apply their signature into a special box. Therefore, the signature from the platform, if used together with other supporting documents, is sufficient evidence of an intention to be bound by the contact.

The validity of a deed that has been signed electronically

 For the deed to be valid in common law it must be in writing, expressed to be a deed, delivered a deed (usually electronic delivery suffices) and executed as a deed. The deed has to be witnesses in order to be executed. Although there is no statutory law that would shed a light on the issue, the Law Commission has issued a report into electronic signatures. The first finding is that the combination of different legal instruments shows that electronic signature usually meets all the statutory requirements. Second, an electronic signature can actually be witnessed. Witnesses can see the signature of the other person and add their signature as well. However, there is still a requirement of the physical presence of the witness.

Where electronic signature will not be valid

  • Documents that need to be registered at Land Registry (electronic signatures do not meet statutory requirements)
  • Documents executed by foreign companies


The validity of an electronic signature

 There is a body of case law that establishes that the contract is valid if entered into by the exchange of e-mail. Therefore, it can be assumed that if a typewritten signature was sufficient then the court will not find an electronic signature through a platform to be invalid.


We, therefore, conclude that the contact and a deed that otherwise fulfil all the criteria but were signed digitally would fulfil the criteria for validity. Especially, the Courts are likely to take into account the fact that at the moment physical signatures do not seem to be feasible since most of the organisations are closed. However, as there is no case law or statutory law, electronic signatures for deeds will always entail an amount of risk. Therefore, if it is possible then we advise using physical signatures for deeds.

The information above is provided for reference only. Please consult with our specialists prior to taking any actions, as every situation is different.


You can contact us on:

07 305 966 531


Covid-19: Landlords’ and tenants’ rights

On 26th March the UK government brought forward a package of measures aimed at protecting tenants who were financially affected by the coronavirus.

According to this document, the following provisions will apply in the next three months:

1 – Landlords will not be able to evict tenants from the rental housing;

2 – If landlords decide to terminate tenancy agreements, they will have to notify their tenants at least 3 months prior to the termination. In case of a dispute, landlords will not be able to initiate legal proceedings to evict tenants before the end of this period. These measures will be valid until 30th September, and may be extended if necessary;

3 – Starting on 27th March the court suspended all ongoing cases of eviction of tenants from rental housing. Both ongoing cases and new lawsuits will not proceed to the eviction stage. This provision will be valid for 90 days and will be extended, if necessary. It applies to both tenants and those with a mortgage.

4 – Tenants shall fulfil their obligations to pay rent;

5 – If tenants face financial problems, they should discuss it with their landlords and try to negotiate alternative arrangements;

If landlords do not agree to reduce or defer the rent, tenants can apply for the State support:

– The government allocated 500 million GBP to support families facing financial difficulties;

– The government also introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover up to 80% of the salaries of affected workers;

– Both Universal Credit and Housing Allowance will be increased, and starting in April, Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of the rent in each region;

– Landlords will be protected by a 3-month mortgage payment holiday.


You can contact us on:

07 305 966 531



Leave to remain under the parental route

Two successful applications for leave to remain under the parental route.

Our clients both parents of children in the UK had no status in the UK when they approached Sterling Law.

One of our clients was the parent of a British child, although he was no longer in a relationship with the other parent, our client maintained a relationship with his child and was involved in her upbringing. The other clients were the parents of a child who had resided in the UK continuously for 7 years.

Accordingly, applications were made on behalf of our clients for leave to remain in the UK on the basis of their family and private life, and in particular on the basis of their parental relationship with their children.

In order to be successful in an application for leave as a parent of a qualifying child[1], it must be demonstrated by the Applicant that it would be unreasonable for the child to leave the UK. This is enshrined in section 117B of the Immigration Act 2014

117B (6) Immigration Act 2014:

In the case of a person who is not liable to deportation, the public interest does not require the person’s removal where—

(a)the person has a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a qualifying child, and

(b)it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the United Kingdom.


Therefore, Applicant’s must ensure that they provide the Home Office with sufficient evidence to demonstrate their claim that it would be unreasonable for their child(ren) to leave the UK as this is vital to the success of the application.

In both the above cases, upon the advice of Oksana Demyanchuk, our clients were able to provide ample evidence that it was unreasonable for their children to leave the UK and therefore, their applications were successful and leave to remain was granted. Even more impressively, the applications were processed within 6 weeks!


[1] A qualifying child is a child that is a British citizen or has resided in the UK for 7 years continuously.


Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535

What points should a furlough agreement cover?

During these times many directors will have to make an uneasy decision to furlough members of staff. In this scenario, employers have to follow a certain procedure, including the furlough agreement.

What points should a furlough agreement cover?

A non-exhaustive list is as follows:

– Agreement to take a temporary leave of absence
– Start date of the leave of absence (including backdating if relevant, where no work has been carried out by the employee).
– In cases of employees already made redundant, the agreed withdrawal of termination of employment because of redundancy and, if relevant, repayment of any redundancy payments, payments in lieu of notice and/or severance payments already made.
– A mechanism for the employer to end the leave of absence: probably a short notice period of (say) one week.
– An agreement that the employee will not be required or allowed to carry out any work for the employer during the leave of absence.
– Pay during the leave of absence, including (if relevant) agreement by the employee to accept a level of pay lower than contractual.
– An agreement that a leave of absence will be treated as using up statutory and contractual holiday entitlement.
– Confirmation that statutory rights, such as rights to maternity, shared parental or adoption leave and pay, will continue.
– An agreement to accept delayed payment if any payments to the employer under the scheme are delayed.
– Provision of up-to-date contact details for the employee; agreement by the employee to remain contactable.
– Provision for the furlough agreement to be varied unilaterally by the employer (subject to consultation with the employee) to reflect the terms of the scheme and any changes to the scheme which may be introduced.
– An agreement that, subject to the terms of the furlough agreement, the express and implied terms of the contract of employment remain in force. With this in mind, you should check the contract of employment for any additional terms which may need to be temporarily varied.


Please kindly note, the information is provided for reference only. Every situation is unique, and we strongly suggest you seek legal advice before taking any action. You can contact us through:

07 305 966 531

Covid-19: Delays in decision-making

As the Covid-19 situation progresses, the UK has entered into a complete lock-down. This means that not only bars, cafes and restaurants got closed but also governmental organisations have shortages of workers or are closed. Furthermore, the immigration tribunals have temporarily closed.

This means that the clients who have applied for visas or are waiting for a decision from a Home Office or immigration tribunal should be expecting severe delays. However, this will not have any negative effect on you. All the enforcement actions have also been stopped and the authorities cannot ask you to leave the UK. Furthermore, even if your decision is a refusal, the timeframe for appeal would only start from the moment we receive that decision.

It is very likely that you will not hear from the Home Office or the immigration tribunal in the upcoming months. We are doing everything we can for our clients, these absolutely exceptional circumstances are not under the control of legal representatives.

If your visa is about to expire or has expired already and you were expecting to receive a decision from the Home Office, all the visas can be extended until 30 May 2020 if you are unable to travel home because of the closure of borders or self-isolation.

You can always contact us on

or on 07 305 966 531 (Viber, Whatsapp)

One of my employees tested positive for Covid-19. Should I tell others?

Should I tell the staff if one of the employees has tested positive for Coronavirus?

As the situation with COVID-19 develops and more people get infected, there is an issue of whether the employer should inform the rest of the staff if someone gets infected. The balance should be stroke between the employer’s duty to take care of its employees’ health and duty not to disclose medical data. There is no black and white answer to this. However, there are several ways to handle this delicate situation:

1. You can inform the rest of the staff that someone was tested positive without disclosing their name. In that case, it will also be necessary to inform employees who were in direct contact with the infected person. 

2. If there is a possibility to work from home and the office gets shut down, there is no need to inform the rest of the stuff. 

3. If any of your employees are key worker, then the small group of that key workers has to be informed. 

There might be a situation where employees demand disclosure of the infected individual. In that case, you need to obtain consent of an individual for disclosure of such sensitive information. If the employee is unable to give consent or declines, we advise not to give out their name unless it is highly necessary to protect staff wellbeing.


Contact us:

07 305 966 531

Covid-19: 10 useful resources

You might find useful the following resources in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak:


This website contains pretty much everything you need to know about the outbreak and how it affects your life


Number of cases in the UK, risk assessment, advice


A word from NHS on coronavirus


Health and Safety Executive website. On face mask, protection for workers and much more


NHS self-assessment tool for symptoms


Guidance for employees, employers and businesses


Employment advice from ACAS


Home Office update for those unable to leave the UK due to the outbreak. Useful if you are a visa holder.


Immigration advice from the Home Office in relation to the virus


Live stats on the outbreak


If you require specific legal advice let us know:

07 305 966 531

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that the government would help employers to pay the wages of those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during coronavirus outbreak. According to new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the ‘CJR Scheme’) 80% of employee’s wage would be covered by government capping at a maximum £2,500 per month.

 The new governmental scheme provides support for any business in the UK. According to the Chancellor ‘any employer in the country small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible’.

 How to become a part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

Employers will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’, notify those employees of the change and obtain their agreement. The information will then have to be submitted to HMRC through a new online portal (which is not set up yet).

 How much will employers get reimbursed?

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers “wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month”. Chancellor has emphasised that the reimbursement is a ‘grant, which means that employers will not need to repay anything to the government later on. The scheme is also backdated to the 1 March.

 However, it is still unclear whether the £2,500 cap applies to the wage after a 20% reduction or total wage? There is also a question of how the ‘wage costs’ will be calculated under the CJR Scheme when the employee works flexible hours and their pay is not fixed. The government might use the formula of ‘weekly pay’ which will calculate the average pay from 12 to 52 weeks.

The requirement of ‘otherwise have been laid off’

The CJR Scheme applies to any employee who would otherwise have been laid off.

It is first of all unclear whether the government will permit employers to designate those employees who have already been laid off as ‘furloughed workers’.

Second of all, the Chancellor has not stated how will the government assess which employees would otherwise have been laid off. Most probably, they will ask to provide certain evidence for the employer to qualify for the scheme.

The requirement of ‘should not undertake work for an employer while furloughed’

Under the CJR Scheme, an employee that has been designated as ‘furloughed’ cannot do any work for the employer. For the employers that do not shut down their business completely but still require some work to be done the best solution would be to retain part of the workforce at their normal hours and rate of pay, while designating the rest as furloughed workers.

It is unclear whether it is possible to rotate employees. For example, theoretically, employer could designate half of the workers as furlough for week 1 and then designate the other part as furlough for week 2.

What’s next?

This is surely an unprecedented situation that leaves a lot of unanswered questions by both employers and employees. A lot of businesses, in the current situation, will be thinking of shutting down completely even after the crisis has passed. This might encourage them to terminate employment contracts rather than designating employees as furloughed. The more guidance is required from the government for the businesses to know which course of action to take as many employers around the country are struggling with ensuring the survival of the business and preservation of the workforce.


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Covid-19: Guidance for Tier 2 & Tier 5 visa holders and their sponsors




Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants and their employers are unsure of how absences due to illness may affect their visa. Here are some facts you should know:

  1. Sick leave can be taken by those who are self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak/ illness. Sick leave is an acceptable absence which can be taken in addition to the permitted annual leave of up to 4 weeks.

Moreover, Employers will not be required to report any migrant’s absences, where those absences have been a result of the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.

  1. Sponsors will also not be required to withdraw your sponsorship for employees who have exceeded four weeks of absence without pay.
  2. Sick Employees, including Tier 2/ Tier 5 visa holders, are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks.

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full.

  1. The reduction in salary due to sick leave may cause your salary payments to fall below what was stated in your CoS, the advertisement for your job and even the appropriate rate stated in the SOC code.

However, if the reason for the reduction is SICK LEAVE (incl. due to coronavirus) your sponsor is NOT obliged to stop sponsoring you or to report it to the Home Office. However, this may affect your ability to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Tier 2 migrant where the salary threshold of £35,800 should be met.

  1. Positive news which is certain: The salary threshold in the eligibility criteria for indefinite leave to remain under Tier 2 will not increase annually following the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee. As a result, it will remain at £35,800 for all applications submitted on or after 6 April 2019 (paragraph 245HF(vi)(3) of the immigration rules).
  2. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in which the Government will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs will be also available to employers in regards to Tier 2/ Tier 5 migrants.


You can download the guidance in Word format below:

Guidance for Tier 2 & Tier 5 visa holders and their sponsors

If you have any questions you can always contact us at

or +44 7 305 966 531 (Viber, Whatsapp, Telegram)