Policy News Journal - 2014-15

2011 revealed excessive mileage. For example the total claim for July 2011 was for 197 miles, whereas the AA figures for the same journeys totalled 99 miles.

The Claimant asserted that the high mileage he claimed was due to a number of factors, namely difficultly in parking, one way road systems and road works, causing closures or diversions.

The employee did not put each specific journey to the Claimant and analyse the purported reasons for the additional mileage. This was because every single journey that the Claimant had made was above the AA suggested mileage. It concluded that it was simply not plausible that there was a legitimate explanation for each and every journey. The employer concluded that gross misconduct had occurred and the Claimant was dismissed. The employment tribunal dismissed a claim for unfair dismissal, a decision which was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal. According to the Court of Appeal the tribunal was required to apply the test in British Home Stores Limited v Burchell, which includes the employer carrying out as much investigation into the matter as was reasonable in the circumstances. But the band of reasonable responses test applies to an investigation into suspected conduct as well as to the reasonableness of the decision to dismiss. The Court of Appeal considered that the employer's investigation was reasonable and should not be interfered with. According to the Court of Appeal, to say that each line of defence put forward by the Claimant must be investigated unless it is manifestly false or unarguable is to adopt too narrow an approach and would add an unwarranted gloss to the Burchell test. The investigation should be looked at as a whole when assessing the question of reasonableness.

Repudiatory Breach of Contract

25 February 2015

Is it a repudiatory breach of contract to forward an obscene and pornographic email at work?

Yes, held the High Court in Williams v Leeds United Football Club .

Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin summarises:

Mr Williams, a senior employee, brought a claim for wrongful dismissal against his former employer, an association football club. He had been dismissed, with notice, on grounds of redundancy. Within a week of being given notice, however, the Club summarily dismissed him on grounds of gross misconduct. It had discovered that over 5 years earlier, he had forwarded an email containing obscene and pornographic material (aptly described as 'dirty Leeds') to a junior female employee, and two friends at other football clubs. The club refused to pay him the balance of his notice pay, some £200,000. Mr Justice Lewis, sitting in the High Court, dismissed the notice pay claim. Although it was clear that the club had planned to stop paying his notice pay before notice was served (knowing it to be a breach of contract) and had forensic investigators actively seeking evidence of misconduct, there was no evidence that they knew of the offensive email before redundancy notice was given. The sending of the email 5 1/2 years earlier was a breach of the duty of trust and confidence, particularly given his senior position. The nature of the images, the fact that it could amount to harassment of the female employee and the potential consequences to the club was sufficiently serious to amount to repudiatory conduct. The Club was thus entitled to dismiss him without notice.

'Loss of a Chance' Compensation

CIPP Policy News Journal

08/04/2015, Page 138 of 521

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