Festive Legal Questions

Festive FAQs8th Dec 2021

by Neil Andrews on 8th Dec 2021

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Festive FAQs

Inspired by the Law Society's Solicitor Chat on Twitter we've compiled our answers to some commonly asked questions around the festive season.

1. Are there any particular legal issues you see a rise in around Christmas time?

You may be refused leave over the Christmas/New Year period by your employer, as employers are entitled to refuse leave on specific days if adequate notice is given. However, in some circumstances this could infringe other employment rights giving rise to discrimination and/or constructive/unfair dismissal claims.

Christmas time sees a spike in Wills and Probate enquiries, often as a result of family members discussing their affairs at the annual get-together. While many of us don’t like to think about what could go wrong, preparing for the worst can help in the future. Dying intestate (without a Will) or losing your capacity without a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place can mean that more time, money and stress will be expended by those who care about us at a time when they are already under enough strain.

2. What can clients do if they need urgent legal advice over the Christmas period?

Try to anticipate as much as possible and contact your solicitor with any concerns before the Christmas week. Most law firms include a footer on all of their correspondence to ensure clients are aware of their Christmas opening and closing times from early December, so it is worth taking note of these.

If law firms are closed and you urgently need help, the following might not be able to offer legal advice, but might be able to offer guidance, as relevant:

For help with benefits, work, debt and money, a consumer issue, a housing issue, family matters, the law and the courts, immigration and/or health:

Citizens’ Advice Bureau: 0800 144 8848
On-line chat service available

Shelter: 0808 800 4444
On-line chat service available

National Debtline: 0808 808 4000
On-line chat service available

Relate:  0300 0030396
On-line chat service available

Acas:  0300 123 1100


3.  If a ticketed festive event is cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions, what rights does someone have to a refund?

If you bought your ticket from an official seller you can get a refund if the organiser cancels, moves or reschedules the event. The organiser will tell you how to get a refund. If the seller won’t give a refund check if they are a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and use their complaints procedure. STAR members should refund face value. If you can’t get your money back this way check if you can get it back from your card company. 

A refund may also be available if purchased from ticket exchange and resale companies, although they may not be issued automatically so check the terms and conditions on the seller’s website. If you have purchased the ticket from an individual then there is very little redress but it is worth checking with the event organiser if they offer any remedies.


4. Santa’s elves are taking on extra shifts over the Christmas period, what employment rights should they be aware of?

Normally averaged over 17 weeks, under the Working Time Directive the legal limit for weekly working hours is 48 hours a week on average. However, the elves may have to work more than 48 hours a week on average where 24-hour staffing is required. If the elves want to work more than 48 hours they can sign an agreement to opt out. Santa can ask the elves to opt out of a 48hour week, but the elves cannot be sacked or treated unfairly for refusing to do so.

Otherwise, family members working in a family business and those who live with their employer and who are genuinely treated as one of the family are exempt from minimum wage requirements, but it would be good practice for Santa to consider the national living/minimum wage rates as of 01 April 2021.

(What do you call an elf who runs off and stops working for Santa? A rebel without a Claus…):

National Living Wage (23 and over)
21-22 Year Old Rate
18-20 Year Old Rate
Under 18 Year Old Rate
Apprentice Rate
Accommodation Offset

Elves should check their employment contracts: if Christmas Day falls on one of their normal working days, and the North Pole is open for business on public holidays and Santa expects them to work then they are likely to be required, under their contract, to work on Christmas Day itself.

Last, but not least, what kind of music do elves like to work with best? Wrap music, of course!


5. If Santa leaves a faulty gift under the Christmas tree, what steps should someone take?

Act quick. Under the Consumer Rights Act you have only 30 days to reject a faulty item and ask for your money back. If you miss the 30-day window, you can ask for a free repair or replacement in the first 6 months after the purchase. If you find fault after the first 6 months then you will need to show that the fault was present when the good was purchased (this is likely to be quite hard to prove).

If you do not have a gift receipt getting a refund, repair or replacement can be trickier although it is still worth trying to go in-store. Many retailers offer a ‘goodwill’ policy on returns around Christmas and may still allow you to sort out the faulty gift without going to the person who gave it to you.


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