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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Ending Fixed-Term contracts

Q: I am a lawyer preparing a brief, I have a question for you, does a contract of fixed term imply a clause removing any requirement of a notice period and so termination can be at the will of the employer?

A: The only clause implied is that notice is not required at the end of the contract. However, any early termination of a fixed-term contract will result in a breach of contract, unless the contract contains an early termination clause allowing either party to give notice. Where the contract allows the employer to end it early by giving notice, the employee will be entitled to the statutory minimum notice applicable.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Constructive eviction

Q: I have received numerous e-mails on this topic, so I will just answer without putting any specific question.

A: Constructive eviction occurs when a tenant vacates the property because he/she feels that due to actions or omissions by the landlord, there was a breach of the terms in a lease or some other convenant. These include:
1. Quiet enjoyment, whereby the landlord must ensure that the tenant can live peacefully at the property without any unecessary or prolonged disturbance and;
2. Fit for occupation, whereby the landlord must ensure that the premises are fit for human habitation. 

A tenant who is constructively evicted may terminate the lease and seek damages, by showing: 
  • the uninhabitable conditions (substantial interferences) were a result of the landlord's actions (not the actions of some third party, so a tenant cannot hold the landlord responsible for the actions of other tenants) and:
  • that the tenant vacated the premises in a reasonable time.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Employee Redundancy

Q: I was made redundant in February. Am I right in thinking that this means my former employer is unable to refill my position, I think, for at least six months?

A: No, you're not right in thinking that. An employer can hire someone else right after you leave, but it will cast doubt on the real reason for firing you. If this happens, you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal and if the employer cannot prove that the redundancy was genuine, but the circumstances have now changed, you will definitely be successful with your claim. 

What you described is one of the sly ways in which employers avoid getting caught when using redundancy to unfairly dismiss someone. They either wait a while before hiring someone new or they re-name the position.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Trinidad and Tobago: Legal Profession

Q: What do I need to know about being a Lawyer in Trinidad and Tobago?

My lucky cufflinks

A: You should find all your answers here: Legal Profession Act 1986: Chapter 90:03, as amended

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sale of Goods - Incorrect product

Q: I refused to pay for some products that I did not order from a supplier. He mixed wanted stock with unwanted stock and has now refused to accept the returns and demands the money be paid.

A: The contract was breached by the suppliers when they supplied goods that were refused from the onset of the agreement. The provision that governs this is the Sale of Goods Act 1895 –Chapter 82:30, as amended. According to Section 31(3):
Where the seller delivers to the buyer the goods he contracted to sell mixed with goods of a different description not included in the contract, the buyer may accept the goods which are in accordance with the contract and reject the rest, or he may reject the whole.

Section 35(1) goes further to explain:
Where goods are delivered to the buyer which he has not previously examined, he is not deemed to have accepted them unless and until he has had a reasonable opportunity of examining them for the purpose of ascertaining whether they are in conformity with the contract.