Case roundup

This week’s case roundup

Illegal contract
Beauvale Furnishings v Chapman, unreported, November 2000, EAT

Chapman was offered employment by BFL. He asked BFL to structure his
remuneration for tax purposes so that he appeared to be a self-employed
consultant when in fact he was an employee. BFL agreed and he started work in
1996.

In 1997, BFL reverted to paying him as an employee and in 1998 he was
dismissed. He claimed unfair dismissal and the tribunal held that he satisfied
the then two-year qualifying period because between 1996 and 1997 he was
actually an employee and his dealings with the Inland Revenue did not amount to
illegality.

On appeal, the EAT disagreed and held that because Chapman had structured
his contract between 1996 and 1997 specifically to defraud the Revenue it was
tainted with illegality. So, he was unable to rely on that period when calculating
his length of service and so had not acquired unfair dismissal rights.

Strike out, medical reports and human rights
De Keyser v Wilson, IDS Brief 685, EAT

Wilson claimed constructive dismissal arising from stress at work, supported
by a medical report. De Keyser instructed its own medical expert. The letter of
instruction listed events in Wilson’s private life which could have caused her
illness. The tribunal struck out De Keyser’s defence on the basis of its
scandalous conduct and breach of Article 8 (Right to Privacy) under the Human
Rights Act.

The decision was overturned on appeal. The EAT held that there had been no
breach of Article 8 – the letter was written before the Act took effect, De
Keyser was not a public body and none of the information had been obtained
surreptitiously or in confidence.

Further, the tribunal should have considered whether a fair trial of the
issues was still possible before deciding to strike out. A fair trial was still
possible if a new doctor was instructed. The instructions could refer to other
possible causes of stress to lead the expert to make adequate enquiries but
should not seek to induce bias.

The EAT gave detailed guidance on instructing experts. In summary, joint
instruction is preferred, specific questions should be raised, instructions
should avoid being partisan and the expert’s duty to the tribunal should be
emphasised. Costs may be awarded against a party which fails to follow these
guidelines. relying on the Court of

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