Brynmawr family face ruin after firm fails to pay £50,000

South Wales Argus: NO PAYOUT: Stephen Miles with wife Ellice and children Isabela and Timothy NO PAYOUT: Stephen Miles with wife Ellice and children Isabela and Timothy

A FATHER who was awarded almost £50,000 for unfair dismissal says his family was left facing financial ruin when his former employer failed to pay out.

Father-of-two Stephen Miles, 30, from Brynmawr, was awarded £49,307.50 by an employment tribunal in April, after a judge found Abercynon firm Applemint Limited, trading as MJL Group, had unfairly dismissed him. But almost four months on, he has not received any of his award because Applemint Limited ceased trading.

The tribunal heard Mr Miles began working for Applemint Limited, which supplies employment law advice, in January 2008 as a computer programmer.

But in June 2010 he was dismissed after being blamed for the loss of a client contract, but the tribunal found Applemint Limited had failed to prove any reason for dismissal.

Representatives did not attend the hearing in Cardiff after informing the tribunal it had entered an insolvency process, but the tribunal’s judgement said its investigations had shown the company was not insolvent and “had the standing to defend the claim”. The judge ordered the company to pay Mr Miles more than £49,000, but he has still not received a penny.

A solicitor’s firm appointed to recover the money said it had not been able to enforce the judgement through MJL Group Ltd because MJL Group Ltd has no trading connection to Applemint Limited.

Applemint Limited’s managing director Philip Shelley said the firm had ceased trading on March 31, 2011, which is why it was unable to defend itself against Mr Miles’ claim, and said it does not have the assets to satisfy the employment tribunal’s judgement.

Mr Miles said the last 14 months had put a huge strain on his family as they struggled to provide for their children Isabella, two, and Timothy, 11 months.

Full-time mum Ellice Miles, 25, said her husband has applied unsuccessfully for more than 60 jobs. She said: “It’s been very difficult.

My mother has bought clothes and shoes for the children – even our food.”

The couple say the law should be looked at again.

Applemint Limited’s managing director Philip Shelley said Mr Miles’ “particularly high award”

could be put down to the fact the the claim was uncontested.

He added that it was “unfortunate”

in the current economic climate that employment legislation seemed to be weighted in favour of employees, and that many companies were being put out of business “as a direct consequence”

on employment tribunal.


EDITORIAL COMMENT: Close this loophole

WE HAVE every sympathy with Stephen Miles who today tells how he is facing ruin because of a loophole in the law.

Mr Miles was awarded almost £50,000 for unfair dismissal from his company.

A court ruled the firm had unfairly dismissed him and breached his contract.

That firm then got rid of the part of the company Mr Miles worked for, leaving his claim redundant.

The company blamed difficult trading conditions for its demise.

However, that will come as no comfort to Mr Miles and his family who now face losing their home.

It seems a very unfair system where money can be awarded to a wronged employee only for that firm to virtually disappear and leave people like Mr Miles with no comeback.

There is clearly a loophole here that needs to be looked at.

And it needs to be looked at soon before others find themselves in such an awful situation.

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