Williams v Ferrosan Limited, EAT 5 March 2004

Reviews reviewed: Williams brought successful claims of sex discrimination, and constructive and wrongful dismissal.

At the subsequent remedies hearing, the issue arose over whether part of the compensation that related to loss of future earnings was taxable. Both legal representatives and the chairman mistakenly believed there would be no tax liability in respect of loss of future earnings, and so that element was calculated net of tax.

Afterwards, it became apparent that the tribunal should have made a gross award, whereby Ferrosan would deduct the relevant tax, paying the balance to Williams.

Williams applied for a review of the decision. She wanted to be put into the position that had been agreed at the hearing, which would mean an increase in the award of around £60,000. The tribunal considered the Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2001, which state there should be a review if ‘the interests of justice require’ it, and held that the error by the legal representatives did not amount to a ground for applying for a review.

Williams appealed to the EAT, arguing that an overriding objective of the rules is for tribunals to deal with cases justly, and bearing in mind that the mistake was actually made by the representatives as well as the chairman, a review was appropriate.

The EAT concluded that in the interests of justice, the tribunal’s error should be corrected at a review, and Ferrosan would be ordered to pay the agreed gross sum in respect of the loss of future earnings.

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