Recession prompts small business to seek legal help, according to employment lawyers Ashby Cohen

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Increasing numbers of employers have sought legal representation from specialist employment law firm Ashby Cohen in 2012.

The recession is forcing increasing numbers of smaller businesses to seek legal advice, according to leading employment lawyers Ashby Cohen.

The London-based firm has noted a 25% increase in enquiries from employers in 2012 – a trend that has gathered pace over the last six months.

The most common queries have centred around potential or on-going litigation involving employees and according to Alain Cohen, director and co-founder of Ashby Cohen, that is indicative of the changing employment landscape.

He said, “In previous years something like 90% of our instructions came from employees, with employers making up the remaining 10%.

“Over the last six months in particular that has shifted to something more like 65% employees and 35% employers. That’s a very substantial increase.

“When you start to pick up employers like that you find that it’s generally because litigation is taking place or is about to take place, whereas with employees it could be any number of things. Work done for employers tends to be more litigious in nature.”

He continued, “Small employers in particular don’t tend to have retained lawyers. They do things on an ad hoc basis. But given the kind of increase we’ve seen it is perhaps indicative of something greater.

“You could blame the recession in that it is making employers more reluctant to spend money on legal insurance, which, when matters requiring legal representation popped up previously, would have covered it.

“More businesses are taking the risk now and hoping they don’t need it and I believe we’re seeing that in action here.”

According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), small and medium enterprises (SMEs) accounted for 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK and 59.1% of private sector employment at the start of 2012.

With so many businesses and employees within this sector, any large shifts in numbers of employers seeking legal help can be viewed as a matter of some concern – especially given the fragile state of the economy as a whole.

Mr Cohen added, “We’ve been going for 13 years now and we’ve only ever had a small smattering of employers as clients. Over the last six months, they are flocking without any prompting from us – and I think that’s telling.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Ashby Cohen Solicitors was founded in 1999 by Alain Cohen and Paul Samuel.

Between them, they bring over 60 years’ experience gained in careers in law, commerce and industry.

The firm operates in all areas of employment law, partnership law and in matters arising out of the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993.

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Sean Hamilton
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