Case roundup

This
week’s case roundup

A
series of breaches can constitute constructive dismissal
JV Strong & Co v Hamill, IDS Brief 684, May 2001, EAT

For
almost a year, Hamill suffered a series of incidents of harassment and
bullying, including dog faeces placed in his work bag and rancid milk in his
boots. In 1998, the investigation into the incidents concluded they had not
happened. Hamill voluntarily transferred to another site, which went well
initially. In 1999, his supervisor criticised him for taking too long on a job,
even though it was not his fault. Hamill resigned and successfully claimed
constructive dismissal.

The
tribunal held that the cumulative effect of the incidents amounted to a
fundamental breach of the implied term of trust and confidence. And the fact
that Hamill continued working after the initial incidents did not mean he had
waived his right to claim constructive dismissal following the final incident.
The issue was whether the last incident was sufficient a trigger to revive the
previous incidents. The key issue was the nature of the incidents, the time
over which they occurred and the length of time between them. Any waiver was
not "once and for all", but rather conditional on there being no
repeat.

Damages
for loss of accrued pension rights
Silvey v Pendragon, unreported, May 2001, CA

Silvey
was made redundant in November 1997, 12 days before his 55th birthday, when he
would have become entitled to accrued pension rights. He was entitled to 12
weeks’ notice but accepted a payment in lieu. He had no pay in lieu of notice
clause, so technically he had been wrongfully dismissed. Silvey successfully
claimed damages for the loss of the pension rights, but the tribunal and EAT
held his loss stemmed from the date of termination rather than the breach of
contract. On appeal, the Court of Appeal found that the cause of the loss was
the breach of contract – namely not allowing Silvey to serve his 12 weeks’
notice. Accrued pension rights depended on service, and any dismissal before
Silvey’s 55th birthday would have a detrimental effect on him. The loss was not
too remote and he was entitled to damages for his loss.

In
our 20 February issue, we reported on the case of R v Chief Constable of
Merseyside Police ex-Parte Bennion. The chief constable successfully appealed
to the Court of Appeal, which held, earlier this month, that he was not
disqualified from adjudicating in disciplinary proceedings.

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