Belfast Chamber puts Employment Law in the Spotlight

MGGD employment talkBelfast Chamber of Trade & Commerce is to host an Employment Law Workshop in partnership with Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors.

The Workshop is aimed at giving businesses the opportunity to receive expert advice on how to protect their business as well as guiding them through the latest Employment Law updates.

President of Belfast Chamber of Trade & Commerce, Hugh Black explains:

“This seminar is a must for all employers who want to remain educated on their current obligations towards their employees’ rights.  It is an informative, up-to-date guide which will be delivered by experts on employment law.”

Gerry Daly, partner at Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors adds:-

“Businesses will be given a briefing on a range of employee rights.  We will be dealing with disciplinary matters and grievances as well as equality in the workplace.  We will also be examining ways of minimising the risk of litigation. Attendees will also get a chance to talk to us on a one-to-one basis about their own particular situations.”

The seminar will take place on Tuesday 22nd September 2015 in Belfast Chamber of Trade & Commerce Offices at 2nd floor Sinclair House, 95-101 Royal Avenue Belfast.

Places are limited so if you are a BCTC member and are interested in attending this Workshop, emailing the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce Officer Martina Connolly, on or call 028 90 331399 by Friday 19th September 2015 to reserve your place.

Grandparent’s Day 2015: Having Contact with Your Grandchildren

grandparents day

Grandparent’s Day 2015 will be celebrated across the UK on 13th September 2015.

The bond between a grandparent and their grandchild is regarded as one of the most precious relationships in life.  Grandparents are free of the stresses of parenting and can simply enjoy a fun and loving relationship with their grandchild.   Often this relationship can be of great benefit, not only to grandparent and grandchild but also to busy parents who can have some valued time off from parenting.
But for some grandparents, having a relationship with their grandchild can be impossible if one or both of the child’s parents refuse allow them to have contact time with their grandchildren.  Often this can happen when the parents have separated and bad feeling develops amongst the wider family.
If you are a grandparent in this position, there are things that you can do to try and see your grandchildren.  

I want to see my grandchild – what can I do??

If contact between you and your grandchild cannot be agreed then you can apply to the Court for a Contact Order.  You must first seek permission from the Court to bring such an application however in all but exceptional circumstances this permission is granted.

Once permission is granted, the Court would then consider your application for contact in more general terms.  Both of your grandchild’s parents would be a party in this application and they are entitled ask the Court to consider any objections which they may have in relation to you having contact with your grandchild.

What will the Court look at when deciding on whether to grant me a Contact Order??

The Court will consider all the circumstances of your case but in particular the Court will look at what is in the best interests of your grandchild.  The Court may ask a Court appointed social worker (known as the Court Children’s Officer) to speak to your grandchild in order to find out what his/her views are in relation to having contact with you.  Your grandchild’s views will be taken into account however how much weight the Court places on their views will depend on their age and understanding.

How much contact can I expect to get with my grandchild?

Whilst the Courts are sympathetic to grandparent’s applications for contact and are aware of the importance of such a relationship, a grandparent would not generally expect as much contact as a parent who is living apart from his/her children.   That being said, a Court will consider each case on its own circumstances and permit contact at a level that they believe is in the child’s best interests.

I want my grandchild to come and live with me – can I ask the Court for this?

In some exceptional circumstances, a grandparent may apply for their grandchild to reside with them.  This would generally be in cases where the parents are not providing adequate care for their child.  If successful, the Court would grant a grandparent a Residence Order in respect of their grandchild. A Residence Order would allow a grandparent to have Parental Responsibility for the child so that they could make day to day decisions regarding the child as well as engage with the child’s school and GP.

If you would like some further information on this area, please feel free to leave your comments below or alternatively contact us at or


Migrants or Refugees? Is There A Difference?

migrantsOver the past few weeks, the media has brought us the most harrowing reports of thousands of people fleeing war-torn Syria to Greece, risking their lives and those of their families in the process.
Only a few days ago, 12 people died after two boats capsized attempted to reach the Greek island of Kos – five of the victims were young children.  Sadly, these 12 were not the first nor are they likely to be the last casualties of this international crisis.  
According to the UN Refugee Agency, approximately 2,500 people are said to have died this summer in attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

It has been noted that many different terms have been used in the media to define those people fleeing their homes in search of safety.   Many reports have referred to such people as ‘migrants’, others have called them ‘refugees’ or ‘asylum seekers’.

But is there a difference between a migrant, refugee or asylum seeker and if so, what is it?

Let’s look at each term individually:-

Who is a Refugee?

Put simply, a refugee is someone who has had to flee their home country out of fear or absolute necessity.  This could be because their country is in a state of war or political instability and it is not safe for them to live there.  It could also be because it is not safe for them to stay in their country due to their religion, beliefs, class, political opinion or even sexual orientation.

Refugees may be forced to flee their country with little or no warning, leaving their homes, belongings and even families and friends.   They have no protection given to them by their own country which makes them some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Once a person has been granted refugee status, they are protected by international law. The country  in which they were granted refugee status will offer them protection.  One of the most basic principles laid down in international law is that refugees should not be returned to situations where their life and freedom would be under threat.  They are given safe ‘refuge’ to live a peaceful and happy life in a new country.

Who is an Asylum Seeker?

A person who claims to be a refugee is not automatically considered to be one.   They must first have their claim evaluated by the government of the country they have fled to.

While the government are deciding on whether to grant a person refugee status, the person will be considered to be an ‘asylum seeker’ – i.e. someone who seeks safe refuge in the country but whose claim has not yet been fully decided upon yet.

Countries have specific responsibilities towards anyone seeking asylum on their territories or at their borders.  While their claim is being considered, asylum seekers will be able to remain in the country they have fled to without the risk of being sent back home.

Who is a Migrant?

A migrant is considered to be a person who chooses voluntarily to move to another country.   There can be many reasons why people move or ‘migrate’ from one country to another – perhaps for improved job prospects, better educational opportunities or maybe just simply to provide a better quality of life for their family.

Migrants decide when to leave their country, make plans of where to live, pack belongings and say goodbye to friends.   They have the opportunity to return to their home country if they wish to in the future.

Does the name really matter?

Whether a person is a migrant, an asylum seeker or a refugee depends very much on their particular circumstances.    In a nutshell however, the terms are not interchangeable.    The UN Refugee Agency states as follows:-

“We say ‘refugees’ when we mean people fleeing war or persecution across an international border.   And we say ‘migrants’ when we mean people moving for reasons not included in the legal definition of a refugee.   We hope that others will give thought to doing the same.   Choices about words do matter.”

If you would like any further information on any area of immigration law, please feel free to contact us at Life Law NI below or email Karen at