In 2001, an employee transferred employment to Crown Leisure from a sister company. Although filling a role similar to that held by Judge, they were paid significantly more.
Judge learned of this and raised it with his manager at the office Christmas party that year. Judge claimed that his manager promised to increase his pay to bring it in line with the other employee within two years.
Although Judge received a series of salary and bonus increases, he resigned two years later, and claimed constructive unfair dismissal on the grounds that he was not paid as much as his colleague, and that this amounted to a breach of contract. He argued that the office party conversation amounted to a verbal variation to his contract.
The employment tribunal rejected his complaint. It took the ‘convivial spirit’ of the party into account, and found no contractual obligation on the company’s part to increase Judge’s pay.
Judge appealed, claiming the tribunal’s decision was perverse. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected his argument, finding that he had failed, on the facts, to establish any binding contract. Judge claimed there had been a procedural irregularity, and was allowed to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
It dismissed the case. The promise made at the Christmas party did not have contractual force. In addition, the Tribunal Regulations 2004 allow considerable discretion in terms of procedure, so where an argument is clear, as in this case, any minor procedural omission is unlikely to result in injustice.