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Correcting a mistake under the dispute resolution procedures

Posted on 2nd June 2009
Case law

The EAT held that the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedure was complied with even though no step one letter was sent to the employee prior to him being told that he was redundant.

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the statutory procedures only require technical compliance

Smith Knight Fay Ltd v McCoy UKEAT 2009

Background

Even though the dreaded statutory dispute resolution procedures were abandoned from 6 April 2009, they can still apply to a range of existing cases. In fact it is estimated that dispute resolution cases will exist until at least 2010 - hence we report this decision as it confirms that an employer can correct a failure to send a step 1 letter provided this happens before the dismissal takes place.

The facts of the case are that an employee attended a meeting at which he was told he was redundant. No step one letter had been sent before the meeting took place. Despite this, the EAT held that the statutory dismissal and disciplinary proceedings had been complied with. This was because a step one letter was sent in advance of the following meetings and these had taken place before the dismissal took effect. The employee argued that it was clear his employer had made up its mind before the first meeting and brought a claim of unfair dismissal and asserted that his dismissal was automatically unfair.

The decision

The EAT decision confirmed that the requirements of the statutory procedures only require technical compliance. Under the statutory regime there was no need to consult the employee before reaching a dismissal.

In fact although the dismissal of the employee was not automatically unfair, the dismissal was still unfair under general best practice case law because the employee was not consulted.

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