Interesting case summary from ARAG;
A Supreme Court judgment with far-reaching implications for staff who work irregular hours was supported by legal expenses insurance. The decision in Harpur Trust v Brazel marks the end of an employment case that has been funded under an ARAG Group Legal Solutions policy, over more than seven years.
Music teacher Lesley Brazel first brought her complaint for unlawful deduction of wages to an employment tribunal in 2015, supported by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM). Mrs Brazel has the benefit of an ARAG Group Legal Solutions policy, which insures ISM members against the cost of various legal actions, such as bringing an employment claim.
The case reached the Supreme Court after Mrs Brazel’s employer, the Harpur Trust, was given leave to appeal a 2019 Court of Appeal judgment which had found in her favour.
The judgment may have significant implications for gig-economy workers and those working on “zero-hours” contracts, but was primarily concerned with workers, like Lesley Brazel, who are permanently employed but do not work fixed hours specified in a contract and who do not work all weeks of the holiday year, like many term-time workers in educational settings.
In response to the judgment, Mrs Brazel issued a personal statement, in which she said:
“After an eight-year legal process, I am pleased to have finally secured a basic employment right in accordance with the law and as stated in my employment contract. I would like to thank the Incorporated Society of Musicians, ARAG Insurance, and the legal teams at Hopkins Solicitors and 3PB Barristers, for their outstanding professional, legal and financial assistance throughout.”
ARAG’s Group Legal Solutions policies are tailored to suit the specific legal needs of an affinity or employee group or members of a federation, association or society, like the ISM, should they end find themselves in a legal dispute.
Chris Millward, ARAG’s Head of Claims, commented:
“This long-running case has highlighted the enormous value that legal expenses insurance provides. Mrs Brazel has been able to defend her legal rights over many years, all the way to the highest court in the land, securing a basic but significant employment right for many others who work under similar conditions and contracts.
The costs in appealing the original Employment Tribunal decision and subsequently responding in the Court of Appeal and, ultimately, the Supreme Court, far exceeded the value of the original claim. While unusual, this underlines the lengths to which ARAG will go to deliver access to justice for policyholders.”
ARAG appointed the Nottinghamshire law firm Hopkins Solicitors LLP to represent Mrs Brazel and counsel Mathew Gullick QC, Lachlan Wilson, and Naomi Webber from 3PB Barristers, to bring the claim to court.