08:09, August 09 401 0

2017-08-09 08:09:08
KWM employees poised to accept six figure redundancy settlement

Around 200 former King & Wood Mallesons EUME employees are poised to accept a six figure offer made by the collapsed firm’s administrators instead of taking their claim to an employment tribunal, The Lawyer understands.

The employees, which formally launched their action earlier this year against the KWM EUME LLP, could receive almost £800,000 through this deal.

A source close to the case said they thought it was likely the former employees – who had their salaries cancelled following the collapse of the firm’s European arm in January – would accept the offer of eight weeks’ pay instead of taking the matter to the Employment Tribunal.

The lawyers acting for the group, Herrington Carmichael, urged their clients to accept an offer which would allow a maximum of £479 per week per person to be recouped. The most an individual can claim from the Redundancy Payment Office stands at £3,832.

An email sent to employees said: “They [Quantuma] argued that in the months prior, redundancies were not anticipated and a full business sale was expected, allowing all employees to transfer to the buyer. This obviously then didn’t happen but it is claimed that due to the timeframes allowed by the fluid situation, it was impossible for them to comply with their obligations.”

The source said it would not be worthwhile to proceed with the claim owing to the potential risk and weight of further expense incurred at an Employment Tribunal.

It is thought that an additional factor in the likeliness of the group accepting the offer is their vulnerable financial position.

“I hope this will lay all of this to rest,” the source added.

The former KWM employees who were deemed “non-essential” staff allege that their former employer failed to give the 45-day consultation period required when making more than 100 redundancies at once.

Earlier this month, The Lawyer reported that up to 20 staff members affected by the collapse were set to receive financial support from ex-partners after the firm’s “hardship fund” closed.

The fund went live officially at the end of April in which recently departed partners were asked to contribute money to support those affected by the firm’s demise, with the figure thought to be in the region of £50,000.

The trustees of the fund, which comprises three former and current KWM partners, are now in the process of making payments to between 15 to 20 staff members who are in financial difficulty.

The Employment Tribunal claim was given the green light to go ahead in April after it was temporarily brought brought to a standstill owing to the Employment Tribunal’s decision to put a stay of proceedings over it.

Its fate now hangs in the balance. A final administrators’ report is expected to be released shortly, in which the much-chronicled factors that led to the extraordinary collapse will be assessed, along with any losses recovered.