Christmas Opening Hours 2022

Please note that during the 2022/23 festive period, our office opening hours will be as follows:

  • 23 December 2022: 9am to 1pm
  • 26-27 December 2022: Closed
  • 28-30 December 2022: Open
  • 2nd January 2023: Closed
  • 3rd January 2023: Return to usual business hours


Disability History Month 2022

We have celebrated Disability History Month 2022 this week, and we are happy to say that this year there have been excellent strides in creating further awareness and more wins for those who have disabilities both visible and invisible. Although, there is still a substantial amount of work to be done, we must be proud of the advancements we have made and commend those who have pushed to create awareness.

We would like to congratulate Reena Parmar, Senior Knowledge Lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for her new role as Chair of the Law Society of England and Wales’s Disabled Solicitors Network. In November 2022, our colleagues Lewis Anstiss and Saadia Sharmin had the opportunity to speak to Reena over a zoom chat to gain further understanding about disability in the workplace. Below is a transcript of their conversation:

Saadia: Globally 1 in 7 of us live with a disability and of that number 80% are invisible disabilities so how do we as a profession provide a foundation for people to feel comfortable to open up about disability?

Reena: As you quite rightly point out, the statistics around disability are eye-opening! And if you factor in neurodivergence, as well as those with caring responsibilities, it quickly becomes apparent that disability is not a minority issue. Despite this, the needs and barriers of our community have not been given the same priority as other diversity characteristics. The legal profession is behind the curve in addressing this imbalance, and law firms need to do more to make the workplace as inclusive of disability as of other diversity characteristics.

Ultimately, people will only open up if they feel like they are in a supportive and welcoming environment of psychological safety. Without that environment, those who can mask their disability and neurodivergence will often do so.

But there is no quick fix. Creating a culture of disability inclusion, where people feel able to openly talk about disability or neurodivergence, is complex and takes sustained time, effort and engagement at all levels within an organisation, from senior leadership downwards, across a wide range of areas.

That level of complexity can be a barrier to firms getting started on this journey; disability inclusion sometimes gets put into the “too hard to tackle” box. But open dialogue about disability and neurodivergence within the profession is a good start in terms of raising awareness, and this is something that the Disabled Solicitors Network (DSN) is trying to encourage and foster. The DSN has also developed some great resources, which firms can use to get started. More on these later!

It’s also worth noting that conversations about disability should be holistic i.e. go beyond challenges and barriers, and also acknowledge the many skills and talents that disabled people bring to the workplace.

Lewis: If they want to keep details of their disability confidential is there a way of providing anonymity for staff that may not want everyone to know about their hidden disability?

Reena: I prefer to talk about “non-visible” disabilities, rather than “hidden” disabilities, as “hidden” implies a level of secrecy or something to be ashamed of.

Disability is deeply personal; people have an innate fear of talking about disability as they worry about prejudice and the assumptions that may be made about them by other people. As a result, some people prefer not to talk about their disability in a workplace context. No one should ever feel pressured to discuss their disability, whether the disability is visible or non-visible. If an individual chooses to approach their line manager or HR team to discuss disability or adjustments, they should have complete confidence that those discussions will remain confidential.

Employee networks can be a really valuable safe space within which individuals can talk openly and honestly about their lived experience. Sometimes disabled individuals will feel more confident opening up in that context initially, on the basis that the network is a supportive community.

Saadia: 93% of junior lawyers admit to feeling stressed at work with 1 in 4 feeling stressed daily. What more can be done to stop burnout for up and coming talent in the legal sector?

Reena: Mental health and wellbeing are so important, across all levels of seniority within the profession.

In a workplace context, employees experiencing stress or poor mental health may be unwilling to talk about this, or to access workplace support for mental health. Managers need to be alert and watch out for signs that an individual is struggling, and sensitively signpost them to help and support wherever possible.

We work in a demanding profession, and this can take its toll. So it’s really important that junior lawyers set boundaries in terms of basic self-care – ensuring that they get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise and maintain personal interests and hobbies. It can be all too easy to get into a cycle of prioritising work over physical and mental wellbeing, especially if you feel like your workload is out of your control, but the reality is that if you don’t look after yourself then you are not going to be able to give your best at work.

Open and honest dialogue about this is important. The more we talk about mental health in the workplace and normalise it, the more senior leaders talk about it, the more it allows others to feel like they are in a safe space to proactively share mental health challenges before those become acute.

For those that are struggling with mental health, stress or burn out, I would recommend contacting LawCare for help and support.

Lewis: When it comes to awareness of disability what are some short term, midterm and long term targets that law firms can or maybe should commit to in furthering support for disability?

Reena: There is no one size fits all approach – it depends on the size of the firm, and the stage that they are at in terms of their disability inclusion journey. But for those firms that are only just starting their disability journey, they may initially want to focus on understanding the needs of their current and future employee base and on identifying barriers and blockers, such as
assessing their workplace adjustments process, accessibility of premises or the inclusiveness of their recruitment processes. They might also want to build disability confidence in their workforce via learning and development programmes, so that managers (and others) feel more confident in having disability-related conversations and feel empowered to be active allies.

And finally they will need to consider what actions they need to take in order to be more disability inclusive. Some actions will be straightforward easy wins, and others will be more complex. Firms will need to be strategic and plan ahead for short-, medium- and long- term objectives based on their priorities. They also need to be mindful of the need to involve their disabled employees when formulating strategies and objectives – “nothing about us without us”.

Lewis: Further to my previous question how will this differ for small law firms and large law firms as there will be a difference in available resources?

Reena: No matter how big or small your firm, in-house team or organisation, you can make a positive change to improve disability inclusion.

But it is important to distinguish between small firms and large firms. Smaller firms may not have the infrastructure, resource or budget that larger firms do. And something that may be a reasonable expectation for a large firm may not be feasible for a smaller firm.

The DSN acknowledges this distinction. We have created Easy wins and action points for disability inclusion, which has separate recommendations for smaller firms and larger firms. These are simply easy wins, questions to get discussions going or starting points for further work, rather than the only actions a firm should be taking. You can access the Easy wins
documents here: Easy wins and action points for disability inclusion | The Law Society.

Saadia: Lastly, I know that you and The Law Society’s Disabled Solicitors Network are doing great work in providing awareness and resources for disability awareness, what are some future projects you have in place and how can people access the resources that you offer?

Reena: You can access all of the tools and resources that the DSN have created on The Law Society website page: Disabled Solicitors Network | The Law Society .

The reasonable adjustments best practice guidance note and the easy wins and action points for disability inclusion are great starting points.

The DSN will imminently launch Project Rise II, an initiative to introduce part time training contracts.

We also intend to publish a tips and tricks document related to assistive technology

Lewis: Thank you Reena for taking the time to answer our questions and providing useful insight and advice on how as a firm we can do better or be supported to address disability at the workplace.

Christmas 2021 Opening Hours

Christmas 2021 Office Opening Hours

The No Fault Divorce from April 2022

After many years of campaigning for a ‘no fault divorce’, the government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 was finally passed in June 2021 with the changes due to come into effect from 6 April 2022.

The new divorce system aims to modernize the divorce process into the 21st Century with the aim of avoiding assigning ‘blame’ to the other spouse, i.e. alleging fault.  The idea is that by introducing a no fault divorce process, this will reduce conflict and its inevitably damaging effect on both the parties’ wellbeing and any children of the relationship.  The breakdown of a marriage/civil partnership is an emotionally draining situation for all couples and applying for divorce relying on the fault of one party under the current system often increases conflict, which then leads to high levels of solicitor involvement and therefore higher legal costs.

Currently under the pre April 2022 divorce regime, couples are required to prove to the court that their marriage/civil partnership has broken down irretrievably due to one of the following five facts:

  • Behaviour;
  • Adultery;
  • 5 Years Separation without consent;
  • 2 Years Separation; or
  • Desertion

As of 6 April 2022, as a result of changes made to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973/Civil Partnership Act 2004 by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, couples will no longer need to prove fault or rely on any of the above five facts.

What will change in April 2022?

  1. The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage/civil partnership will be the sole reason for a couple choosing to file for a divorce.
  2. As well as an individual application supported by a statement, the new law introduces the ability for a couple to provide a signed joint statement confirming that their marriage has broken down irretrievably. In either case, this will be used as conclusive evidence by the court to make an order for divorce and the ability to contest a divorce, dissolution or separation will be removed.
  3. The language using during the divorce process will be updated and simplified: the ‘Decree Nisi’ will become a ‘Conditional Order’ and the ‘Decree Absolute’ will become a ‘Final Order’.
  4. There will be a new ’20 week cooling off period’. This means that the new minimum time period from submitting a statement will increase to 20 weeks instead of the previous 6 weeks and 1 day. This allows for both parties time to agree arrangements surrounding the divorce such as finances, property and child arrangements. After this period, a ‘Conditional Order’ is granted by the courts.

What will the above changes mean going forwards?

By removing the blame on one party, it is intended that the new Act will help increase the likelihood of resolving divorce matters outside of court, which will make getting a resolution faster and more cost effective.

If you’re unsure about how the new divorce system will affect you or if you’re thinking about applying for a divorce, our highly experienced team of family lawyers are here to guide you every step of the way to ensure that you reach your desired conclusion.

Saadia Sharmin selected as a Finalist at the Inspirational Women In Law Awards 2021

The Inspirational Women in Law Awards 2021 has seen our Saadia Sharmin selected as a Finalist in the brand new Paralegal of the Year category.

The Inspirational Women in Law Awards seek to identify individuals from across the legal profession who are leading the way in improving equality and diversity.

This year’s ceremony will take place on 3 November 2021 and will be overseen by a distinguished panel of judges from across the Bar, the Solicitors profession and Cilex.

Saadia had this to say about her nomination:

I feel extremely honoured to have been shortlisted as Paralegal of the Year at the Inspirational Women in Law Awards 2021 amongst some noteworthy inclusions. It feels great to have my hard work and dedication towards my role recognised and has made me feel proud of how far I’ve come as a paralegal.

Saadia Sharmin a Winner at the We Are The City Rising Star Awards 2021

Black Antelope Law is pleased to announce that Saadia Sharmin was a Top 5 winner at the We Are The City Rising Star Awards 2021. Saadia was nominated for and won the EA & PA category.

The We Are The City Rising Star Awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across different industries and professions.

Following her win, Saadia had this to say:

To win the EA/PA Award is not just an individual recognition but reflects on the work that my team does daily. Too often organisations forget to remember or award the nitty gritty work administration professionals undertake on a daily basis, so to receive this award has certainly been refreshing and I encourage more organisations to nominate their often unsung colleagues. I am ecstatic to be recognised amongst some of the best women in the profession and I am extremely grateful

Compensation for Breach of a Subject’s Rights under the Data Protection Act 2018

An individual’s right to claim compensation following a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is given effect in section 168 of the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). An equivalent right is provided in section 169 for an infringement of the DPA 2018 which is not a contravention of the GDPR. Although the DPA 2018 does not assist with determining the amount of compensation, case law decided under its predecessor, the Data Protection Act 1998, continues to provide guidance.

Overlap with other types of claim

Unsurprisingly, claims under the 1998 and 2018 Acts frequently overlap with claims for misuse of private information, negligence, and contravention of the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. If multiple causes of action succeed, the usual approach is not to distinguish between them when awarding damages (Crook v Chief Constable of Essex Police [2015] EWHC 988 (QB)). Claims are unlikely to succeed if the damages claimed under data protection legislation cannot be treated as arising separately from damages already compensated via an alternative cause of action (Crook v Chief Constable of Essex Police [2015] EWHC 988 (QB)).

Damages for distress

It is well-established that damages under the 1998 and 2018 Acts may include full compensation for monetary loss and personal injury, including causation of mental illness. But what about distress caused by infringements of data privacy? The early case of Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers [2002] EWHC 499 (QB) signalled that damages awarded for distress following a data privacy infringement would be limited. The defendant newspaper had published photographs of the claimant leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting along with an article containing details of her drug addiction and ongoing therapy. The High Court found that there had been a breach of the 1998 Act and awarded damages of £2,500.

By contrast, the High Court recently awarded £18,000 each for distress caused to two claimants whose data had been inaccurately featured in the infamous ‘Steele Dossier’ which alleged links between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump (Aven and others v Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd [2020] EWHC 1812 (QB)).

The leading case in this area is now TLT v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWHC 2217 (QB). At least two developments can be identified from this case. First, there is a threshold of distress below which damages in respect of distress alone may not be awarded. The court did not specify where this threshold lies, apart from to say the de minimisprinciple applies. Second, there is no reason why compensation for distress alone cannot run into many thousands of pounds.

In Woolley and Woolley v Akbar [2017] SC Edin 7, the Sheriff Court awarded each of the claimants £8,634 after their neighbour installed CCTV cameras and audio recording equipment directed at their property. The defendant did not dispute the claimants’ calculation of damages for distress, namely £10 per day the equipment was operational. In the absence of a dispute, the Sheriff merely commented that the calculation seemed logical and easily applicable.

Damages for mere breach

A breach of the DPA 2018 has generally been regarded as not actionable per se. A notable case in this area is Lloyd v Google Inc [2018] EWHC 2599 (QB), which concerned the defendant’s unlawful placement of tracking software on a large number of iPhones. At first instance, it was held that the infringement itself could not constitute damage. That decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal in Lloyd v Google Inc [2019] EWCA Civ 1599, but the defendant has now appealed to the Supreme Court.


The outcome of the case law is that damages for a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 will be unpredictable and highly fact-specific. Currently, damages can be claimed for material and non-material loss, including distress. However, the Supreme Court’s decision in Lloyd in early 2021 could have far-reaching consequences for potential claimants under the DPA 2018 who have suffered no loss at all.

If you have been affected by a breach of your subject rights under the Data Protection Act 2018, Data Protection Act 1998 or the General Data Protection Regulations, do not hesitate to contact a member of our Civil Litigation team to find out what rights to compensation you may have.

The Impact of Brexit on the UK Immigration Rules

Taking a stronger hold on immigration policies and borders isn’t a new agenda for the government. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel’s post-Brexit plan from January 1st 2021 for immigration undeniably proves this with a planned ‘points-based system’ with an aim to reduce the number of immigrants coming into the UK. But what will this mean for workers?

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 11 November 2020  and freedom of movement will be replaced with a points-based system to allocate points to workers aspiring to earn a living in the UK based on skills, level of education and their standard of English, to give some examples. The higher the score, the better for those wishing to reside here. This system has various purposes, but Priti Patel has made great emphasis on the need to reduce the number of economically inactive people aged 16-64 in the economy, which is estimated at 8.6 million as of November. However, not all will fit into one category as to why people are unemployed. There are a variety of reasons and it could be that they are full-time students, retired or carers rendering them incapable of having a full-time job. The Office for National Statistics reinforces this as the majority of the 8 million have viable and valid reasons for being out of work such as illness and carer duties as mentioned above. So, will this policy aiming to select workers from the existing pool truly boost the employment rate and the economy from January and is there any vulnerability to job loss risks which existing EU national workers could face?

This policy will affect many job sectors including the healthcare sector. The health correspondent for the BBC, Nick Triggle has explained that foreign nationals currently make up a sixth of the 840,000 care workers in England alone. But as these workers are considered ‘low-skilled’, could this new policy effectively push them out? It seems that thousands of workers will not meet the threshold put in place by the government and Home Office as many do not have or hold A-Level qualifications or earn a high enough salary. On the contrary, the BBC highlighted earlier this year that the definition of ‘skilled worker’ would broaden to not only include graduates but also A-Level qualification, Scottish Highers and technical equivalents. But will a broadened definition of ‘skilled workers’ relax the system for EU nationals in certain sectors? In more labour orientated jobs such as the building sector, many of the workers come from other EU countries and have learnt their skills required for their work practically as opposed to solely education. This implies that they may not have the necessary A Level or equivalent qualification the government is expecting, despite these workers exceling in their respective field. The figures which state that EU nationals make up roughly 28% of construction workers in London strongly suggest that many workers of this industry could be at risk because of the points system as they may be unable to get visas. But this is not unique to the constructive sector as many fields will experience this same vulnerability.

As well as mere risk, the government have stated that EU migrants who lose their job will have to return to their home country, unless they have indefinite leave to remain. This confirms that visas will not be given to many workers already working in the UK unless they meet the said conditions.

It is clear this post-Brexit immigration plan will affect many workers as freedom of movement comes to a close for the UK. EU nationals who wish to come to the UK will almost certainly struggle much more than under the existing immigration rules. The lingering question is how much strain will it put and how much will it benefit the struggling economy?

Many individuals in positions of hospitality, the labour market, seasonal work and plenty more may be unable to change their situation and be worried for their future as ‘low-skilled’ or ‘economically inactive’. If you are in a similar position and are concerned for the assessment of your economic activity, please contact us for a consultation and speak to a member of our award winning Black Antelope Law Immigration Team.

Simao Paxi-Cato appointed Griffin Access Programme Facilitator

Black Antelope Law is pleased to announce that our Simao Paxi-Cato has been appointed as Programme Facilitator for the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn Griffin Access Programme.

The Griffin Access Programme (GAP) is a student development and careers advice programme for Year 12 and Year 13 students.

The overarching aim of the programme is to de-mystify careers at the Bar by providing an opportunity to meet and work with the members of the Inn and to provide practical advice to plot a route to the Bar for committed students. The Griffin Access Programme will differ from other schools’ outreach programmes run by the Inn in terms of the duration and contact students will have with the Inn’s members.

The Programme will be driven by the Barristers of the Inn (Programme Facilitators) and will act as a gateway to the career services of the Inn.

Simao is very excited to be part of this new initiative and considers that his role is an opportunity to further Black Antelope Law’s commitment to positive action in the legal profession and achieving a more representative profession.