Bond v Urmet Domus Communication & Security UK Ltd UKEAT/0103/10/JOJ
Appeal against finding that employers had complied with statutory dismissal procedure in a redundancy on the grounds that they had not informed the employee how the selection criteria had been applied to him personally. Appeal allowed and remitted to tribunal.
Appeal No. UKEAT/0103/10/JOJ
EMPLOYMENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL
58 VICTORIA EMBANKMENT, LONDON EC4Y 0DS
At the Tribunal
On 27 May 2010
THE HONOURABLE MRS JUSTICE COX
DR B V FITZGERALD MBE LLD FRSA
MR D J JENKINS OBE
MR N BOND (APPELLANT)
URMET DOMUS COMMUNICATION & SECURITY UK LTD (RESPONDENT)
Transcript of Proceedings
For the Appellant
MS LOUISE PRICE (of Counsel)
Messrs Colemans CTTS LLP
25-29 High Street
For the Respondent
MR JAMES ARNOLD (of Counsel)
Messrs Wollastons LLP Solicitors
New London Road
STATUTORY DISCIPLINE AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES – Whether infringed
Employment Tribunal found that employers had complied with the statutory procedures in a redundancy dismissal. The question was whether they erred in so finding when the employee had not been informed as to how the chosen selection criteria were applied to him personally. Appeal by Claimant upheld, applying Alexander, and finding of automatic unfair dismissal substituted. Remitted to fresh ET for remedy to be determined.**THE HONOURABLE MRS JUSTICE COX**
- This is yet another appeal raising the question of compliance with the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedure which, although much criticised and now repealed, was still in force at the material time. The issue in this case is whether the Claimant/Appellant was automatically unfairly dismissed by the Respondent because of a failure to comply with Step 2 of the statutory procedure.
- The Claimant contends essentially as follows: (a) the Tribunal erred in law in finding that there had been compliance, and that the Claimant was not unfairly dismissed by virtue of section 98A(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996; and (b) in coming to these conclusions the Tribunal failed to have proper regard to the evidence before them.
- The Respondent contends that the Tribunal applied the law correctly and came to the right conclusion on the evidence in this case. Further, the appeal is said in any event to be academic because the Claimant does not assert that it would have made any difference to the outcome.
- The relevant facts are these. The Respondent is a small company that supplies door entry systems to the multi occupancy housing sector. The Claimant commenced employment with them in 2003. He started work in the technical department, in technical sales support, and was subsequently promoted to the post of product development manager in 2005. He then worked on activities related to specific entry systems known as Urmet and FDI products. There were four people employed in the technical department, namely the technical director, Mr Carpenter; the Claimant as product development manager; Mr Nery O'Nery, working on automated product support and Simon Crane, technical support. The employees dealing specifically with the mechanical FDI and Urmet products were the Claimant and Simon Crane.
- By the autumn of 2008 the Respondent was experiencing financial difficulties due to the adverse economic climate. On 6 October 2008 the Respondent held a group meeting with all staff, at which they were informed that the situation was being evaluated in order to see whether reorganisation or redundancies should be proposed. The Respondent took advice from the human resources service, Sage, in order to consider the best way to carry out any redundancy or reorganisation process, and in order to ensure that they complied with the legislative requirements then in place.
- On the following day, 7 October 2008, the Respondent wrote to all staff setting out a timetable of events, as follows:
"Wednesday 8th Oct 2008 - Individual meetings will take place where you can ask for additional information.
Monday 13th Oct 2008 - Individual meetings will take place where the company will advise you if your position is at risk or not. Proposals maybe made for change of roles as part of the Process Reorganisation.
Wednesday 15th Oct 2008 - Individual meetings will take place for those affected by 13/10/2008 outcome to discuss situation further.
Friday 17th Oct 2008 - Final consultations will take place today. Any redundancies would be effective immediately."
- On the same date the Claimant and other members of staff were sent another memorandum setting out the following redundancy selection criteria for consideration:
* "The requirements of the process and functions that now needed to meet current conditions.
* Qualifications and ability to meet current requirements.
This memo also set out the process in relation to the making of redundancy payments.
- Pursuant to the timetable, the Respondent's Director, Mr Gami, and Mr Carpenter had a meeting with the Claimant on 8 October 2008. At that meeting the timetable for consultations and the selection criteria were discussed, as was possible redundancy pay. The meeting was found to be constructive and the Tribunal found that the Claimant was "aware of the possible redundancy criteria that would be utilised in the event of redundancy" and that "he had the opportunity to comment on them but did not do so". The Claimant acknowledged the serious financial situation for the Respondent at this meeting and offered to take a sabbatical if that would help.
- On 13 October, once again in accordance with the timetable, the Claimant and other members of staff were sent a letter informing them of possible redundancies. The following was relevant to the Claimant:
Monday 13th Oct 2008 - We have established that we will need to make redundancies and/or have operational changes involving role changes in the following areas:
* Technical Department activities relating to Urmet and FDI products."
- Since only the Claimant and Simon Crane undertook these activities in the technical department, the Tribunal found that the Claimant was aware at this stage:
"… that it was only either him or Mr Crane that would be considered for redundancy and/or reorganisation in the Technical Department."
- Further, a meeting took place on 13 October, when the letter of that date was discussed. The Claimant was informed that either he or Mr Crane was being considered for redundancy, in accordance with the criteria, and that reorganisation was not appropriate to meet the future needs of the business. Once again the Claimant apparently offered a sabbatical of one or two months at this meeting, in an effort to be helpful.
- In accordance with the timetable, on 15 October individual meetings took place with those employees who were affected. The Claimant and Mr Crane attended separate meetings. At his meeting the Tribunal found that the Claimant was informed that he was at risk of redundancy. He asked if he was actually being made redundant, but was told that at this stage no final decision had been made. He was informed that a final decision would be made on 17 October.
- On 17 October a final consultation meeting was held with the Claimant, attended by Mr Carpenter and Mr Gami as usual, but attended in addition by another director, Mr Haggen. Mr Gami told the Claimant that his offer of a sabbatical had been considered but that the Respondent "had to propose his redundancy".
- Before the Tribunal there was a dispute between the parties as to what had actually been said at this meeting and as to what was meant. The Claimant's case was that he was told at this meeting that he was being made redundant, that in accordance with the timetable he was aware that it took place with immediate effect, and that he therefore believed he was being dismissed on that day.
- The Tribunal found that there had been some confusion about this meeting. The Claimant had had regard to the contents of the timetable. He was also asked to leave the premises after the meeting, which the Tribunal said he may reasonably have interpreted as consistent with his dismissal being with immediate effect. We also note the Tribunal's finding that the Claimant had been told at the meeting on 15 October that a final decision would be made on 17 October. However, the notes of the meeting specifically referred to the words "proposed redundancy" and to a subsequent meeting to take place on 22 October 2008.
- The Tribunal noted that the Respondent's notes of the meeting were accepted by the Claimant as accurate, save in these two specific respects, and they noted that the Claimant had not himself provided any notes of the meeting, despite the fact that he had had the opportunity to make his own notes at the time or shortly afterwards.
- The Respondent had also written a letter to the Claimant on 17 October, which he accepted he had received on 20 October. This letter referred specifically to a planned meeting on 22 October to discuss the Claimant's redundancy. The Claimant responded to this letter by email dated 21 October stating that he would not be attending that meeting. The Tribunal found that there was no logical explanation why the letter of 17 October would have been sent to the Claimant if it did not in fact reflect what had been said at the meeting. Further, they considered it surprising, if the Claimant's account were correct, that he had not mentioned in his email that he believed he had already been dismissed with immediate effect on 17 October.
- The Tribunal therefore found that the notes of the meeting accurately recorded what had happened and what had been said. They found that the Claimant was informed at the meeting that his redundancy was proposed and that it was not effective immediately.
- Following the Claimant's email of 21 October the Respondent wrote to the Claimant on the same day, inviting him to attend a rearranged meeting on 29 October 2008. The Claimant did not attend this meeting, or give any notice that he would not be attending. However, on the day before the meeting he did send a further email stating his belief that he had been made redundant with immediate effect on 17 October.
- In this email he set out a number of complaints. He stated that he had been made redundant without prior notice, either verbally or in writing, and that he had been personally selected without any explanation as to why he had been selected, without the opportunity to consider and discuss it, and without the opportunity to appeal and to ask for a further meeting. He asserted that the Respondent's letters of 17 and 22 October were written after he was made redundant and that the Respondent had failed to explain how the criteria listed in the notice dated 7 October applied to him, or why he was the one who had been selected.
- He also stated that the Respondent had refused to allow him to record what was said at meetings, so that he could make notes later on. Before the Tribunal the Claimant maintained that the Respondent was aware that he was dyslexic. The Respondent denied any knowledge of this, but the Claimant appears to have accepted that he was not prevented in any event from making notes after the meeting. In fact he stated that he had made some notes in accordance with his recollection of events.
- The meeting on 29 October took place in the Claimant's absence, and he was then informed by letter of the same date that he was made redundant. His termination date was stated to be 29 October 2008. However, the Respondent treated the Claimant's email of 28 October as grounds of appeal and invited the Claimant to exercise his right of appeal. Mr Arnold points out that the meeting on 29 October was, in fact, the Step 2 meeting required by the statutory provisions, although the Tribunal does not appear to have made an express finding to that effect.
- The Claimant exercised his right of appeal, setting out his grounds in a further email dated 4 November 2008. He then attended an appeal hearing on 7 November, where his appeal was considered but dismissed. He then brought his Tribunal claim, alleging that his dismissal was both automatically and ordinarily unfair.
- Having found these facts, the Tribunal stated that they had considered the relevant statutory provisions and the case law relating to unfair and automatically unfair dismissal. They referred to the provisions of section 98, section 98A and section 139 of the Employment Rights Act 1996; and they indicated that they had had regard to the decisions of the EAT in Alexander & Hatherley v Bridgen Enterprises Ltd  IRLR 422 and to Williams v Compair Maxam Ltd  IRLR 83. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the relevant statutory provisions and extracts from the authorities were not expressly set out in the judgment. Citation of the relevant law concentrates the mind and enables Tribunals to focus on the applicable legal principles.
- The Tribunal's conclusions were set out at paragraphs 6 to 13 as follows:
"6. The first consideration the Tribunal undertook was as to whether the statutory procedures had been complied with. We have concluded that the Claimant was informed of the criteria that would be used and applied to him and Mr Crane during the meetings which were held by the Respondent. The Claimant was under no doubt as at 15 October 2008 that it was him or Mr Crane that would be subject to potential redundancy and/or reorganisation. The Claimant had an opportunity to discuss the criteria and chose not to make any observations in relation to it. Further, the Claimant had an opportunity to attend the meeting on 22 October 2008 and the meeting of 29 October 2008 but chose not to do so.
7. The Claimant had a good opportunity at these meetings to assert, understand and become aware of the reasons for redundancy and why he has been selected. The Claimant was offered an appeal which took place on 17 November 2008 and was able to put forward his concerns which the Respondent did not accept.
8. The Claimant was informed in writing of the meeting but did not attend the meeting, which was rearranged. He was offered the right of appeal and he exercised that right. The Tribunal concluded that the statutory procedure has been complied with by the Respondent.
9. The Tribunal has concluded that this is not a case which is consistent with Alexander & Hatherley v Bridgen Enterprises Ltd  IRLR 422. The Claimant had opportunity to make representations as reasons and alternative to redundancy. The Claimant knew it was either him or Mr Crane that would be selected for redundancy in accordance with the criteria and he had the opportunity to make representations at the meeting on 29 October 2008 to discuss any issues he wished to raise as set out and informed by the letter of 17 October 2008 but chose not to attend this rearranged meeting.
10. In dealing with ordinary unfair dismissal principles, the Tribunal concludes that the Respondent has established a potentially fair reason for dismissal, namely redundancy. There was concern about the severe downturn in business due to the economic climate which occurred in the second quarter of 2008 and the Respondent established it had less requirement for workers to undertake work of Urmet and FDI technical support.
11. In respect of whether the dismissal was fair and reasonable in all the circumstances, the Claimant, and other staff, were warned of potential redundancy on 6 October 2008 in a group meeting. The Claimant was informed of the timetable to be followed and he was informed of the selection criteria and had an opportunity to comment and make representations on it. The Claimant attended meetings on 8 October 2008, 13 October 2008 and 15 October 2008 where he was able to make representations and observations on the criteria and its implementation. He was told that it was proposed to select him for redundancy at the meeting on 17 October 2008.
12. However, the Claimant did not get the full reasoning as to why he particularly was selected for redundancy instead of Mr Crane until the Respondent's much later letter dated 11 March 2009. Further, the Respondent did not undertake specific scoring and weighting process when evaluating Mr Crane as against the Claimant.
13. The Tribunal considered whether this rendered the dismissal unfair. Having regard to the size of the Respondent and the information about administrative operations of the Respondent, the fact that it was in effect a straightforward comparative exercise between two closely matched employees, namely the Claimant and Mr Crane and the fact that the Claimant was at all times aware of the criteria he would have been able to deduce that Mr Crane was viewed more favourably against the criteria. This was so and the Tribunal is not satisfied that the Respondent's assessment in this regard was unreasonable. Therefore, we do not find that the dismissal was unfair."**The Appeal**
- On behalf of the Claimant, Ms Price contends that he Tribunal erred in deciding that the case of Alexander v Bridgen was not "consistent" with the present case. Alternatively, they erred in failing adequately to explain why they made that determination, or indeed what they meant by it. She draws attention to the Tribunal's conclusions at paragraphs 7, 8, 9 and 11 of their judgment. There was no dispute in this case that this was a dismissal to which section 98A(1) applied. It was therefore necessary for the Tribunal to determine whether the parties had followed the steps set out in Schedule 2, Chapter 1 of the Employment Act 2002. It was agreed that the standard procedure applied.
- Ms Price points out that, before the Tribunal, the following facts were not in dispute: (1) the Respondent had used a scoring method to select the Claimant for redundancy; (2) the scores had not been provided to the Claimant until March 2009, when the Claimant's solicitors requested them some five months post dismissal; and (3) although the Claimant was aware of the selection criteria that the Respondent proposed to use to select an employee for redundancy from his department, the Claimant was not informed as to how these criteria had actually been applied to him or to any other employee until after his dismissal. This all appears to be borne out by the entries in the agreed chronology before us.
- Relying on the cases of Alexander v Bridgen and Davies v Farnborough College of Technology  IRLR 14, Ms Price submits that the Tribunal erred in law in concluding that this case was not "consistent" with Alexander and in failing to explain why it was not, and what they meant by that finding. Alexander, she submits, was very relevant in this case. The fact that the Tribunal found, at paragraph 9, that the Claimant had had an opportunity to make representations relating to the selection criteria and alternatives to redundancy, does not address the issue raised by Alexander. The important point is that the Claimant was never given the opportunity to challenge the Respondent's application of the criteria to him, and to understand why he personally was being made redundant.
- The Tribunal were therefore in error, she submits, in finding as they did at paragraphs 7, 9 and 11. The Claimant was not informed why he had been selected, or how he had been assessed against the criteria. The Tribunal appear to have assumed that the burden was upon the Claimant to ask for this information, rather than upon the Respondent to provide it.
- We shall consider this ground of appeal first, before turning to the Claimant's other grounds, which challenge the adequacy of the Tribunal's reasoning and raise evidential criticisms.
- Section 98A (1) provides as follows:
"(1) An employee who is dismissed shall be regarded for the purposes of this Part as unfairly dismissed if -
(a) one of the procedures set out in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Employment Act 2002 (dismissal and disciplinary procedures) applies in relation to the dismissal,
(b) the procedure has not been completed, and
(c) the non completion of the procedure is wholly or mainly attributable to failure by the employer to comply with the requirements."
- At the time with which we are concerned in this case, the standard procedure in Part 1 of Schedule 2 required the following steps:
"Step 1: statement of grounds for action and invitation to meeting
1(1) The employer must set out in writing the employee's alleged conduct or characteristics, or other circumstances, which lead him to contemplate dismissing or taking disciplinary action against the employee.
(2) The employer must send a statement or a copy of it to the employee and invite the employee to attend a meeting to discuss the matter.**Step 2: meeting**
*2(1) The meeting must take place before action is taken, except in the case where the disciplinary action consists of suspension.
(2) The meeting must not take place unless -
(a) the employer has informed the employee what the basis was for including in the statement under paragraph 1(1) the ground or grounds given in it, and
(b) the employee has had a reasonable opportunity to consider his response to that information.
(3) The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend the meeting.
(4) After the meeting, the employer must inform the employee of his decision and notify him of the right to appeal against the decision if he is not satisfied with it."
The focus in this appeal was clearly Step 2(2)(a) and (b). We do not set out the appeal provisions because no issue arises in relation to them.
- At paragraph 34 in Alexander v Bridgen the EAT described the purpose of these statutory procedures, namely:
"….to seek to prevent the matter going to an Employment Tribunal if possible by providing the opportunity for differences to be resolved internally at an earlier stage."
"To achieve that purpose the information to be provided must be at least sufficient to enable the employee to give a considered and informed response to the proposed decision to dismiss."
- The important point was made, at paragraph 35, that the statutory procedures are intended to apply to all employers, large and small, sophisticated and unsophisticated. It was established in Alexander that Step 1 of the standard procedure requires the employer merely to set out in writing the grounds which lead him to contemplate dismissing the employee, together with an invitation to attend a meeting. The statement at that stage need do no more than state the issue in broad terms. The employee simply needs to be told that he is at risk of dismissal and why. In conduct cases this will involve identifying the nature of the misconduct in issue; in other cases it may require no more than specifying, for example, that it is lack of capability or redundancy. It is not in dispute that that obligation was met in this case.
- In considering the second step, in relation to redundancy dismissals, the EAT said as follows at paragraph 40:
"In redundancy dismissals the issue is more difficult, not least because there are two stages in the process. First, the employer has to decide that he is going to implement dismissals on the ground of redundancy. That is a decision which will generally be taken independently of the particular employees to be selected. Thereafter, absent at least sufficient volunteers, there will need to be the second stage at which particular employees are selected and compulsorily dismissed."
- At paragraph 41 they continued:
"…In our judgment the reference in step two to 'the basis for including in the statement… the ground or grounds given in it' requires that an explanation is given as to why the employer is contemplating dismissing that particular employee. It is, after all, the contemplated dismissal of the specific employee which is in issue and may lead to tribunal proceedings, not just the decision that certain jobs will have to go. In a redundancy context that will involve providing information as to both why the employer considers that there is, to put it colloquially, a redundancy situation and also why the employee is being selected. The latter is, in practice, likely to be far more important to an employee than the former. In general employees will not individually be in a position to make any cogent observations about an employer's conclusion that redundancy is necessary, although sometimes the information provided may raise a question as to whether redundancy is the genuine reason for the dismissal. But, more pertinently, the employee will want to make representations about his own selection and, of course, he will be in the best position to make observations about that."
- Whilst the tribunal is not concerned with the reasonableness of the employer's chosen selection criteria, the EAT emphasised at paragraph 43 that, where various factors are identified and the relevant pool of employees is assessed under each of them, the basis of the selection - the reason why this particular employee has been selected - rests upon that assessment. Thus, it is clearly necessary that, in order to comply with Step 2, the employer should, in advance of the Step 2 meeting, notify the employee of the selection criteria. A more difficult question was what more information, if any, needed to be provided.
- At paragraph 45 they held as follows, and it is this paragraph in particular upon which Ms Price relies:
"We see the force of Mr Barnett's [counsel for the employers] submission that, once given the selection criteria, the employee is in a position at least to address some argument to the employer as to the justification for selecting him. But we - and in particular two very experienced lay members - are of the view that this is not enough to enable the informed response which essential procedural safeguards should allow. In our judgment, in order to comply with the statutory provisions, an employer should provide to the employee not only the basis selection criteria which have been used, but also the employee's own assessment. That will give the employee an opportunity to make representations not only about whether the criteria are justified and appropriate but also, more importantly, whether the marking given to him, in respect of any particular criterion, is arguably unjust, and why. It may be that he can correct some obvious factual error, such as being attributed with a disciplinary record he does not have, or what appears to be a rogue mark on one of the criterion, apparently wholly out of line with his work performance. His response will be difficult to formulate and very much in a vacuum, without this information."
- These passages were further considered by the EAT in Davies v Farnborough College of Technology  IRLR 14. Whilst agreeing with the decision in Alexander, they held that the EAT was not saying in that case that, in order to comply with the statutory procedure, the giving of the particular marks to an employee is necessary in every case. However, at paragraph 9 they continued:
"What is necessary is that, on the facts of any given case, an employer must give sufficient information in relation to how the criteria were applied to a particular employee to give him the opportunity, to which they refer, of challenging and correcting, and supplementing the information, which the employer may wrongly have taken into account or may inappropriately not have known of in order to arrive at the conclusions on those criteria. That may involve the giving of the particular marks, but it may not. We read the words "that will give an employee an opportunity to make representations not only about whether the criteria are justified and appropriate, but also, more importantly, whether the marking given to him in respect of any particular criterion is arguably unjust and why" as referring to whether the assessment made in relation to him in respect of any particular criterion is arguably unjust. That may be satisfied by giving something short of the actual mark. On the other hand, there may well be cases in which giving the mark alone may not be sufficient. What is necessary, however, is for sufficient information to be given to allow the employee both to understand and to challenge why he. rather than others, has been selected in accordance with the chosen criteria."**Conclusions**
- These authorities, which established the correct approach for tribunals whilst these statutory provisions remained alive, provide in our view the clear answer to this appeal. On the facts as found by the Tribunal, this Respondent did not comply with the statutory second step requirements, as explained by two former Presidents of the EAT.
- Mr Arnold submits that the factual matrix in Alexander was different from that in the present case. The employees in Alexander were faced with, as he put it, a "done deal" and had had no opportunity to respond to their particular assessments until they were leaving the meeting at which their fate had already been determined.
- He therefore describes the facts in Alexander as being inconsistent with the facts of the present case, and we agree that this probably explains the use of the term "inconsistent" by the Tribunal in this case. In so describing it, however, we consider that the Tribunal were in error. Even if we were to accept that the facts were different in Alexander, (although as Ms Price pointed out there were also a number of similarities and parallels -see paragraphs 9 to 11), the point is that the principles enunciated were of general application and clearly intended to be so, being principles derived from construction of the relevant statutory provisions. These legal principles should, therefore, be applied in this case.
- Mr Arnold submits that this Claimant was aware of the proposed timetable for the redundancy process, of the selection criteria and, importantly, of the fact that it was either he or Mr Crane who was to be considered for redundancy in the technical department. He submits that before or at the Step 2 meeting on 29 October, which he did not attend, the Claimant had had the opportunity to discuss aspects of his proposed redundancy at the meetings held on 8, 13, 15 and 17 October, which he did attend. He emphasises the word 'opportunity' in submitting that this is what the law requires, and that in this case this is what the Respondent afforded to the Claimant. Mr Arnold submits that this Claimant had every opportunity to ask and discuss the question: "Why me and why not Mr Crane?""
- We disagree with this analysis. Wholly omitted from it is the obligation that an employer should provide to the employee not only the basic selection criteria which have been used, but also the employee's own individual assessment against them, and what it is that has led the employer to select him rather than another - or in this case the other - employee. On the Tribunal's findings of fact that clearly was not done in this case. Those findings show that the Respondent did not provide the Claimant with information as to how the selection criteria were applied to him personally, in order to afford him a meaningful opportunity, in sufficient time, to respond, to question and to make representations upon it.
- In the circumstances of this case, the requirement that the employee should take up the opportunity afforded to him cannot be fulfilled until he has been provided with that information. We agree with Ms Price that it is incumbent upon the Respondent to provide it, and not upon the Claimant to ask for it when he is very much in a vacuum.
- Mr Arnold emphasised the fact that this was a small firm where, as the Tribunal's judgment indicates, before this process began matters were dealt with on a friendly, informal basis. He points out that only two employees were involved in the selection. In our view, however, these factors do not affect the statutory obligation upon an employer, as the EAT emphasised in Alexander, where the procedures were held to apply to all employers, large or small, sophisticated or unsophisticated.
- Nor can we see any logical reason for the employer's obligation not to arise where only two employees are involved, compared with three or more, where Mr Arnold conceded in argument that he might be in some difficulty is submitting that the obligation did not arise.
- For these reasons we consider that the Tribunal were in error in concluding that the Respondent had complied with the statutory procedure, on the basis that the Claimant had had a good opportunity at the meetings to become aware of the reason why he had been selected, and that he would have been able to deduce that Mr Crane was viewed more favourably.
- It is a feature of this case that the Tribunal's finding was arrived at in circumstances where there was no meeting of minds as to the stage which had been reached in the process by 17 October. This confusion was not remedied before the Claimant's dismissal on 29 October at a meeting which the Claimant did not attend because he thought he had already been dismissed. It is therefore not right to categorise this, as Mr Arnold does, as a failure by the Claimant to engage with the process.
- In any event, as Ms Price observes, that does not affect the Respondent's duty to provide the information which was necessary to enable the Claimant to make an informed response to his proposed selection. Clearly the Respondents were in breach of that duty in this case.
- For these reasons, therefore, the first ground advanced by the Claimant succeeds, and this appeal must be allowed.
- It is unnecessary, in those circumstances, for us to consider the alternative ground, that the decision was insufficiently reasoned. Nor is it necessary for us to consider the third ground which, as Ms Price fairly accepted, was essentially a perversity challenge. In our view this challenge, as to the Tribunal's assessment of the evidence, was highly unlikely to surmount the Yeboah threshold in any event.
- We therefore allow this appeal on the first ground. On the basis of the Tribunal's clear findings we are invited to substitute a finding of automatic unfair dismissal. We agree that this is an appropriate case for substitution in the circumstances and we will therefore substitute that finding. This Claimant was therefore automatically unfairly dismissed. Whilst Mr Arnold submitted that the appeal was academic, there is in reality no material to enable us to express a view on that matter, or indeed on other matters which were apparently ventilated before the Tribunal, including Polkey.
- In our view the correct course is now to remit this case to a fresh Tribunal for all such matters to be considered together with the question of the appropriate remedy.
Published: 30/06/2010 16:16