Business and Corporate Law is full of intrigues. It is crafted in order to offer protection to the entrepreneurs, their clients as well as employees. Each of these parties is entitled to fair treatment by the law to ensure optimal returns from the engagement with each other. More often than not, people enter into contacts oblivious of what the contract law entails. This happens due to the fact that whenever entrepreneurs decide to begin a business, hardly would there be an image that a negative occurrence is bound to arise, which would warrant the law to take its course. For this reason, most agreements are usually made as a formality just to enable one instigate the venture hoping that all the dynamics involved would take care of themselves. Circumstances arise in the business arena when either of the parties that assented to any binding agreement is in deliberate breach of the contract. This would be a result of the situation that is not favorable to the party in question. As such, the culprits would devise mechanisms to circumvent the law including disappointing the affiliate parties. In such a scenario, the law ceases serving its intended purpose and instead serve the selfish interests of individuals associated in the agreements. Kadjen Catering Ltd is a good example where business partners are trying to breach the contract with their long-serving employee Lech on flimsy grounds of a mistake that anyone including themselves would still do. Consequently, the proprietors, J and K are obliged to dismiss Lech against the provisions of the binding contract and the provision of law on contracts. In addition, the duo is adamant to accept responsibility for the serious claims labeled against them in regard to the incident of food poisoning at the Hillingdon University graduation ceremony. This course paper outlines the legal position in the three scenarios whereby J. and K. are in breach of their contract with the University, with the affected clients who consumed their delicacies, as well as the engagement with Lech, their employee.
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The Legal Position in Each of the Three Situations
Situation 1: J. And K. Have Heard From The University’s Lawyer Stating That They Are In Breach Of Their Contract And Asking Them What They Intend To Do About The Students And Their Families Who Are Claiming Compensation
It is obvious that J. and K. entered into a contract with Hillingdon University administration before being granted permission for their Kadjen Catering Ltd to supply a “high tea” for the graduates, their guests and university staff on a graduation ceremony. Although later, upon J.’s recommendation, Kadjen Catering Ltd also supplied finger sandwiches, cakes, strawberries and cream accompanied by champagne and a range of soft drinks. This had seemed to be a good deal only to turn sour at the end of the graduation when it transpired that some consumers were seriously ill with gastroenteritis, most of them within 24 hours of graduation. J. and K.’s reaction was outrightly in breach of the Sales of Goods Act (SGA) 1979. This Act categorically states that the goods that any business entity procures to the consumers must comply with the description, satisfactory quality, and fitness for purpose. In the event that the goods’ quality is compromised, then the supplier must take responsibility including compensation for the subsequent damages (Sale of Goods Act(SGA) 1979). Following this clause, it is presumed that the proprietors entered into this contract with the University, without a second thought of what may ensue and the legal provisions therein (Adams 2014).
In her defense, J. refers to Noel, the University’s caters to the clause at the back of their invoice. The clause claimed that “Kadjen Catering would not be liable for personal injury, death, loss or damage due to any default or act of its employees and any other cause whatsoever.” This is indeed a high degree of ignorance and mischief on the part of Kadjen Catering Ltd. This is just but a clever and cunning way of circumventing the provisions of the Act, which state clearly that the supply is supposed to be liable for any dissatisfaction of the goods supplied and the damage caused. It is also unjust to insinuate that such clauses printed behind the business invoices are sufficient to offer their business protection against such serious allegations. Naturally, if the substance gastroenteritis would be slotted into the food samples that guest had consumed, then it was wholly upon the duo to carry the blame for supplying wrong quality goods to innocent customers.
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According to the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994, the term condition suffices to sanction J and K to bear the ultimate censure for the incident of food poisoning in this case (Elliot & Quinn 2014). The law grants the consumer the right to reject the goods in case he or she is not contented or confirms that the quality of the goods in question is compromised. For this reason, the supplier is supposed to take full responsibility for the fault including refunding the already remitted finances for the sake of the sale, plus catering for the damages that may have arisen in case the particular goods may have already been consumed. As a result of this clause, J and K would have just done an honorable thing if to admit the mistake and accept to correct it. Admitting would cost them somehow because it was a must to make certain compensation to the victims, but that would also help them restore their reputation as sincere entrepreneurs who did not only care about themselves but also their customers. Acting this way would have been in line with the Consumer Protection Regulations 2008 (Directive 97/7/EC) (The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008).
Nonetheless, J would also be right to deny the accusations on certain grounds. The fact that several guests had complained of gastroenteritis cannot be wholly attributed to the food that Kadjen Catering Ltd supplied. Unless the medical practitioners had conducted thorough tests to substantiate that the food samples that contained the substance were indeed what Kadjen Catering Ltd prepared, then J would be obliged to concede. Otherwise, the source could still be different given that not all guests complained and the complaints were not immediate. Tests also needed to confirm if the victims had not eaten anything else apart from the food that Kadjen Catering Ltd supplied at the graduation ceremony. All avenues need to be exhausted to unearth the concrete evidence that the offense was on the side of J and K. Otherwise, Kadjen Catering Ltd would reserve a right to sue the claimants for defamation of character, which obviously damaged the reputation of their business.
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Situation 2: Morwenna, Who Has Missed Out On a Very Lucrative Contract and Is Behind With Her Own Work Because Of the Time She, Has Spent In Hospital
Pertaining Morwenna who has missed out on a very lucrative contract and is behind with her own work due to being hospitalized, the law provides that such a victim should be compensated accordingly. Had she not been hospitalized following the food poisoning that affected her, Morwenna could have made much progress in her deals. This would have made a big difference in her life as well as the lives of all those she serves. Due to a simple mistake done by the Kadjen Catering Ltd in supplying food, which leads to gastroenteritis, Morwenna now has to succumb to the consequences, in which she is not part to blame.
Morwenna is entitled to full compensation by the suppliers of food in conjunction with the University. Her claims can be backed by the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, (Directive 1999/44/EC), which provides that in case of a formal contract between the buyer and the seller, the seller is required to deliver to the consumer goods, which are in conformity to the contract of sale (The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002). Following this provision, the Act further elaborates that the consumer goods are said to be in conformity with the contract only if the contents comply with the detailed description provided by the seller; if the goods are fit for any specific purpose, which is made known by the prospective consumer; if the commodities are fit for the purposes, for which other goods of similar type are commonly supplied, and if those goods are of satisfactory performance and quality given the type of the goods and the corresponding price (MacIntyre 2014). This should also take into account any public statements that are made by the seller or its representatives, especially in regard to advertising and/or labeling. With thorough scrutiny of these clauses, one cannot imagine that the claimant’s quest and Morwenna, in this case, would be fallacious. The two entities in the contract, Kadjen Catering Ltd and Hillingdon University should both be held responsible for this kind of negligence. First, the administration of Hillingdon University ought to have taken the trouble to make a formal complaint to Kadjen Catering Ltd for the mess that it dragged it into. Since it is the university that conducted the ceremony and contracted the Kadjen Catering Ltd to supply the food, the university also has some level of liability. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the University to make a compensation follow up on behalf of the affected consumers such as Morwenna.
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Referring to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, consumers of the food from Kadjen Catering Ltd were entitled to protection from unfair aggressive and misleading selling practices by sellers. The business laws clearly prohibit unfair commercial practices, in which J and K have been implicated. The prohibition extends to a contravention of the requirement of professional diligence, misleading omissions, misleading actions as well as commercial actions of the type specified in schedule 1 (The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008).
According to the law, these unfair commercial practices are regarded as criminal offenses and, therefore, attract high punitive measures (MacIntyre 2014). Grounding on these clauses, one would not doubt that the perpetrator, J, and K stand accused before the court of law following the incident. The university administration should act expeditiously to launch a legal suit against the duo for the gross misconduct. The intervention of the law is the only way that would ensure that victims get justice for the negligence of Kadjen Catering Ltd. It is also the time when J and K will reckon with the fact that contracts are not just signed without an apparent reason. All the parties should be committed to the spirit of the contracts to the later (Partington 2014). It is also weird that the administration of Hillingdon University could grant the contract to Kadjen Catering Ltd, without gauging their commitment. It is sad that no one could question the clause behind the invoice, which restated that “Kadjen Catering Ltd would not be liable for personal injury, death, loss or damage due to any default or act of its employees and any other cause whatsoever.” Any observant administrator could have found fault with this misleading clause, especially after demonstrating readiness to deliver safe food as stated in the contract. Naturally, the consumer would obviously have to mind about the standard of food to be supplied for that occasion. In case there would be a problem with the food, the blame could not be transferred again to the consumer as described in the clause behind the invoice. Finally, since it was J’s recommendation to include finger sandwiches, cakes, strawberries, and cream, accompanied by champagne and a range of soft drinks, other than ‘high tea’, which the University had requested for, one can easily question her motive for that.
Situation 3: Lech’s Feeling That He Has Been Unfairly Dismissed
While serving as an employee in any capacity, mistakes are inevitable. In this case, Lech realized something unusual with the potion that had remained inside the bottle of champagne after he had served part of it. The only mistake was that he did nothing about it probably due to the feeling that nothing wrong was bound to happen. Upon eavesdropping J’s conversation with K concerning the incident of food poisoning, Lech learned that the problem had something to do with the condition he had seen with the portion of champagne that had remained in the bottle after serving. Oblivious of the consequences lined ahead on him, Lech decided to unveil the truth about the possible cause to the problem of food poisoning. To his surprise, his employer J became angry with him terming him irresponsible and negligent. As such, she was obliged to terminate Lech’s contract prematurely.
J’s decision to dismiss Lech was equally weird. Lech has been a devoted worker who sometimes worked overtime and still contented with the usual pay as stipulated in the contract of employment (Jones 2013). At least, due to his diligence at work, Kadjen Catering Ltd had a good reputation, which augmented the capacity of customers. Lech was a very sincere worker who acknowledged that there must have been a problem with the type of champagne he was serving during the graduation ceremony at Hillingdon University. Had he decide to keep quiet about it, J and her partner would have remained in dilemma about the whole saga. Therefore, it was quite unfair on the part of J dismissing him after that short notice.
It is true that J made that decision out of emotion, with little or no regard to the binding terms and conditions of service spelled in Lech’s contract of employment. Following the conventional legal provisions (Laws of contracts of employment), Lech was not supposed to be subjected to this kind of treatment, without having been served with a written warning at least once or even twice (Fafinski & Finch2014). In this case, this happened to be the first mistake that Kadjen Catering Ltd ever found with Lech. Even if the mistake would have been grievous as to warrant dismissal, Kadjen Catering Ltd could have first launched an investigation into the matter to substantiate whether the problem of gastroenteritis really emanated from the foodstuff that had been served at the ceremony. Here, J acted purely on assumption yet the opposite could still be true. If the labor laws on employment contacts had been followed, J could have issued Lech with a notice of one month prior to dismissal. This period would be sufficient enough for Lech to find another job or get psychologically prepared to quit. Alternatively, she could also pay Lech a one month salary in lieu of notice so that he could organize himself for the period when he would be searching for another job. In the absence of all these legal provisions, Kadjen Catering Ltd was in total breach of serious contract laws and, therefore, Lech could still file a suit against them for unfair dismissal from his source of livelihood.
Another argument could arise in regard to the way J associated Lech with the apparent mistake. It is questionable whether she dismissed Lech for reporting having noticed something wrong with the potion of champagne or whether she dismissed him because he was the one who caused the mess. Examining these two possibilities, one would straightaway categorize J under the category of inconsiderate employers (Cabrelli 2014). She did not assess the situation properly but instead rushed into drawing a conclusion by pinning blame on Lech. It is still possible that anyone else could have contaminated the drink hoping the blame could still go to Lech because it was obvious that he was going to serve. Another possibility is that perhaps that champagne was already contaminated even by the time it was being bought. Unless J had tested all the champagne bottles to ascertain that all were fit for human consumption before serving, she cannot dispute this claim. Following this reasoning, Lech could still sue J for defamation of character in addition to unfair dismissal for the job. In this case, Lech may be entitled to compensation of a substantial amount of money should his case sail through a court process. J and K also stand to be fined a substantial amount of money for the damages caused to Lech due to their false accusations. In fact, the duo risked losing their business as well because of breaching the contract of employment with their only employee, Lech.
The law is usually double-faceted in nature. It can work for or against those bound by it. Business laws are formulated to instill harmony, orderliness and to cultivate trust and honesty in the corporate sector. Without the relevant laws, the corporate sector could be one of the most chaotic sectors in human history. The case of Kadjen Catering Ltd is a tricky one. This is an enterprise that had exhibited the enormous potential to grow to greater heights in food vending. The reputation of the enterprise had extended far and wide following the record that the proprietors and their worker had set in rendering exceptional services. No one would imagine that one incident would emerge only to damage the reputation that had taken a while to build. A scenario created following this unfortunate incident is just an indication that most contracts are usually made for the sake of it. The parties involved are never committed to the provisions of these contracts, neither do they know what those contracts really entail. It was expected that J and K would honor up their commitment to the contract signed between them and the administration of Hillingdon University warranting Kadjen Catering Ltd to supply food on the graduation day. It was ironical that upon receiving news of food poisoning and the claim of compensation, J refers the complainant to the clause behind the invoice. Certainly, that clause did not feature anywhere in the contract. Furthermore, J breaks another contract of employment signed between Kadjen Catering Ltd and Lech, their committed worker. It is obvious that no contract would have warranted that one is dismissed from any given job upon committing the first mistake like in the case of Lech. This confirms that really, many entrepreneurs often engage employees on contracts but would do very little to honor up to the provisions of that contract. According to the situation cited above, it seems like some employers only regard the law when it serves them best but not the other party. In this respect, the law should take its cause to bring sanity in the corporate sector. Following the example of Kadjen Catering Ltd, many entrepreneurs who may be perpetuating similar ills would also be unveiled for disciplinary actions.