Samantha Savory secures victory in employment tribunal
A Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) student forced to run her own case in an employment dispute has secured victory in the form of a settlement from her former employer.
Strategy specialist Samantha Savory was inspired to study for a GDL at City Law School after she raised workplace concerns with a former employer and was subsequently made redundant.
Initially, Savory’s case was initially handled by a law firm on a conditional fee agreement, but eventually the firm was no longer able to continue on this basis, instead representing her as a paying client. She funded the case from her savings but soon ran out after instructing a barrister to represent her in a preliminary hearing.
She then decided to take on the case herself alongside her studies, and last month she graduated with a commendation just two days after the matter was settled.
Savory describes the settlement as “bittersweet”, telling Legal Cheek: “I’m relieved at the outcome, and proud of the effect it appears to have had, but this process opened my eyes to a lot of difficult, and at times, disappointing obstacles faced by people who speak up about issues, and try to uphold the law.”
Finding time to run her legal case alongside studying the GDL was challenging, and Savory concedes that she “never felt more out of my depth” in something she was doing in her life. However, she says her case was a strong motivation and in the end, family support and “lots of structure, caffeine and dog cuddles” helped get her through.
Under such intense pressure, she says that there were times she thought about leaving the course — even going as far as writing a withdrawal email — but every time she decided to keep going.
The unusual experience of running her own case has given Savory a new perspective on access to the UK justice system. “Access to justice is far from where it should be,” she tells us, continuing:
“In an ideal society, I would see access to legal advice as part of a sustainable and adequately funded public service. But putting that to one side, I’d be interested in giving more consideration to the award of damages that requires practical changes such as mandatory training or education and programme development on the issues that affected the case.”
Savory has no plans for further legal study and instead has other plans for her new skills. “I want to use my background in communications and legal experience to work in an organisation that helps address social issues and creates meaningful changes,” she says.
Savory is not the only law student to use her studies in court. In 2022, we reported a Leeds University law student used the skills learnt on his degree to win a court battle against his former employer. And in 2021, a student at East Anglia University used his contract law revision notes to successfully take his landlord to court over the state of his accommodation.