Stuart Harris Associates Ltd v Goburdhun [2023] EAT 145

Appeal against a finding that the Claimant had been constructively unfairly dismissed and that the Respondent in the ET proceedings had acted dishonestly. The finding of dishonesty was set aside but the decision of unfair dismissal overall would stand.

The Claimant worked as an accountant. She was subject to disciplinary proceedings for “insubordination” for not adhering to an instruction from the Respondent employer to include figures for expenses incurred described as “estimates” in clients’ tax returns. These estimates were not based on actual records of expenditure and were routinely much higher than actual records would suggest. The Claimant was given a final written warning after which she resigned claiming constructive dismissal. The ET found that the Claimant had been constructively dismissed the ET also found that Mr Harris of the Respondent had been either dishonest or incompetent in engaging in the expenses practice that had led to the Claimant’s resignation.

The EAT dismissed the appeal overall. The failure to put to Mr Harris that he had acted dishonestly amounted to a serious procedural irregularity which meant that the finding of dishonesty had to be set aside. However, there had been no prejudgment of the case and the ET’s conduct of the hearing had not otherwise been unfair. Given that the ET’s conclusions as to unfair constructive dismissal could stand irrespective of the finding as to dishonesty, the decision overall would stand and would not be set aside.

Published: 11/12/2023 16:42

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