Q. I recently worked on a contract for about 12 months where I was led to believe that the notice period was 4 weeks to me and 4 weeks from me. It was stated in the offer, written on the contract itself, and also stated several times verbally during the contract by the agency account manager. The agency account manager even agreed that it should be 4 weeks notice when I asked him after the notice for the end of my contract was accidentally given about 4 weeks early by the client. It was also clearly stated on the part of the schedule that I signed at the start of the contract and also on the renewal schedule.
While you may think I would then be entitled to the 4 weeks notice, the agency legal department then said they would only give me 2 weeks notice as they had a 2 weeks notice period between them and the client, and that there was a clause in the contract that said that they would not have to pay me if they weren’t being paid by the client. Afterwards while I was discussing it with the agency account manager, saying how unfair it was, even he agreed it was unfair and said that he believed that I should be entitled to the 4 weeks notice as that was what he also believed we had all agreed to.
As I was consistently led to believe by the agency throughout the contract that I had a 4 weeks notice period from the client and agency, and that it was in writing:
1. am I entitled to receive the missing 2 weeks notice (£6,000)?
2. (other than being morally poor) are they in breach of contract (or are they acting fraudulently) as they have written the contract in a way that deliberately and knowingly mis-leads their contractors (me and several others). (I believe that this contract is still in use and still mis-leading contractors to believe they have more of a notice period than they actually do have, so believe that this is deliberate strategy by them.)
3. is this a lost cause?
A. Your contractual relationship will be with the agency rather than with the end client and any recourse you might have against the agency will be entirely governed by the wording of the contract.
When there are competing clauses in a contract, it is only possible to identify which clause (if any) has precedence by a careful review of the wording of the whole contract. Discussions or negotiations which lead to the formation of the contract cannot usually be relied up if there is an “entire agreement” clause in the contract (meaning that only the wording of the contract itself is relevant).
Unfortunately we are unable to advise you whether you have any claim for the 2 weeks’ notice as a careful review of the contract is outside the scope of this service.
However we would be happy to refer you to a solicitor who would be able to provide advice on whether you might have a case (although please note that such a service would be chargeable).
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