Healy O'Connor

RedFM with Victor Barry – Free Legal Advice on the 12th of March 2013


I’m going to try and set down the answers given on air today to all the legal queries that we had.

The first question was:- I have been with my current job for nearly two years, all I have ever got was an email when I got the job with the basis terms and conditions when I got he job offer. I never had a signed contract, where do I stand and does the company have to legally give me a contact? Shall I ask them for one?
Answer:- An employer has to give your terms and condition of employment in written format and can do so after the employment has commenced. It is arguable therefore that the employer has complied with the law. The thing to remember here is that regardless of the contact or not you have employment rights that are protected under the Law of Contact, old Common Law, Irish Law and EU Law. If the terms and conditions are not detailed enough then you should get onto your employer and look for the details you are missing. Finally, we always advise employers to draft company handbooks which would layout the company’s policies and procedures. Therefore if someone then had a grievance they could then look at the handbook for the grievance procedure and they would then know who to go to.

I bought a dress from my local market, but I couldn’t try it on. When I got home it didn’t fit properly. I went back to ask for my money, they said they would not as there is nothing wrong with it. What should I do?
Answer:- I thought this particular person might be out of luck on this one. I can’t obviously tell if it’s a new or a second hand dress but, as I see she bought it at the market then I presume it was a second hand dress. If it was a second hand dress then she is entitled to the same rights as if it was a new dress because she is buying it from someone who is in business. Of course the goods must be fit for purpose but you cant expect them to be in the same condition as new ones. Second hand goods “are sold as seen” so you need to examine this carefully and ask the seller about any imperfections. However, if she had bought a dress in a private sale then she would have no consumer rights and then would be very much ‘caveat emptor’, buyer beware.
However, let’s assume she bought the dress in a new shop and she wanted to bring it back. In this case you aren’t dealing with a faulty dress of unmerchantable quality. It simply does not fit. The law says that if you simply change your mind about a product, bought it in a shop, you do not have any rights under consumer law. Some retailers may still offer to accept returns, giving exchange or refund but that would be the shop policy and a gesture of good will.

My neighbour has a Large tree growing next to our house and half of its growing passed our bedroom window and blocking quite a bit of light out. I’ve asked him to cut it back, but he’s ignoring me. I’ve told him I will cut it back, he said he will sue me for damage to his property, can I cut it back and can he sue me?
Answer:- This comes up allot. One thing to remember here is that its an offence under the Wildlife Act 1976 to cut vegetation between 1st March and 31st August on uncultivated land. This situation most likely does not apply to gardens however, you still should take note of it. Looking at the specific problem here we can see that main issue is the right to light. There are right now no specific guidelines or planning regulations that we can rely on. There is proposed legislation to deal with this in the Court. That is not to say the Coues haven’t dealt with these cases. A home owner is allowed to prune back the overhanging limbs to the boundary. The overhang can only be cut back from ground level. You cant use mechanical lifts or anything similar and you cant endanger he tree.
I notice the neighbour is not engaging. The person here should write to him saying he is going to cut back to the boundary within a certain amount of days giving the neighbour a chance to do the work himself. Of course nobody wants to go to Court over these things.

My contract at work is 40 hours a week, but I keep being asked to work longer, and as I have a child I can’t do over time, but my boss is pressuring me to do extra hours. When I tell him I can’t he says it won’t look good if promotion or a pay rise comes around. Can he do that to me? Female listener
Answer:- This is an unfortunate situation to be in here. Obviously a tough balancing act for any mother to work and hold down a job and any reasonable employer who is aware of this will try to make life easier, not harder to such an employee.
The employer by making these comments is playing a very dangerous game. We have very robust equality laws in this country and we have come a million miles from the years when women had to give up their jobs in the civil service when they got married. In this case Michelle could look at taking a case against her employer. One of the grounds for taking a claim to the Equality Authority is gender or family status. There are then several boxes that Michelle could tick claiming she is discriminated against by not being promoted or not being paid properly. She could also argue that she is being harassed.

I hope those answers help!

Shane Healy
Healy O’Connor Solicitors LLP

Please note that the free legal advice is given on the basis that no liability arises for HOC solicitors. By its nature the advice given has to make many assumptions and should never be fully relied on. A solicitor should be engaged for full legal advice.

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