As night follows day, one might think that an award of compensation automatically follows a finding of unfair dismissal. An instructive Employment Tribunal (ET) decision, however, showed that that is by no means always the case (Pullar v Tangerine Holdings Ltd and Others).

The case concerned a senior executive whose employer received information indicating that he was planning to establish a competing business. He was dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct following a disciplinary process. The decision-maker stated that his dishonest and deceitful conduct was calculated to destroy the trust and confidence required in an employment relationship.

After the senior executive launched proceedings, his unfair dismissal complaint was upheld by an ET. He had not been provided with all the information that he should have been prior to the disciplinary hearing. He had not been given a fair opportunity to consider some of the evidence against him and the nature of one of the allegations he faced had not been explained to him.

The ET went on to find, however, that the decision-maker honestly believed that the senior executive had deliberately misled the employer's executive chairman and that he had deleted information from his laptop in a deceitful attempt to cover his tracks. She also honestly believed that he had engaged in correspondence which undermined the executive chairman and destroyed the employment relationship.

Those beliefs were based on reasonable grounds and the ET found that his ability to defend himself was not hampered by the flaws in the disciplinary process. Even had fair procedures been followed, he would still have been dismissed. The ET ruled that, in those circumstances, it would not be just and equitable to make a compensatory award to reflect his unfair dismissal.

He successfully argued that, contrary to Section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, he was not permitted to be accompanied during the disciplinary hearing by his chosen companion. The amount of compensation due to him in that respect – up to a maximum of £1,050 – would be assessed at a further hearing if not agreed.

Our expert employment lawyers can advise you on any matter relating to disciplinary proceedings and unfair dismissal claims.  

Contact Emma-Louise Hewitt e.hewitt@sydneymitchell.co.uk 0808 166 8860

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