Email Us 01473 688 100

Case Law

Employee’s admissions and dismissal

Even where an employee admits their part in misconduct investigation may still be necessary before a fair decision can be reached.

CRO Ports London Ltd v Wiltshire [EAT] | 2015

The facts

Mr Wiltshire was a Supervisor. He had been employed since 1991 and had a previously unblemished disciplinary record.

In January 2013 he was called upon to resolve an issue with lifting a container. A manager suggested he pick up “heavy duty twist locks”. He had not been aware that CRO had these. He arrived on site and the team leader was attempting to resolve the problem by using a small piece of wood to help twist the locking pin in place. This was the approach Mr Wiltshire had used in the past. A test lift was done and Mr Wiltshire allowed the lift to continue. The container was not locked properly and it fell from around 20 feet. It was badly damaged and could have caused a fatality.

Mr Wiltshire believed the widespread use of the practice and his unblemished record would result in a warning. He therefore took full responsibility but made the point that the practice was widespread and was effectively sanctioned. Time pressure was also a factor.

The disciplinary hearing took place the day after his mother’s funeral and a few days before major knee surgery. He did not ask for the hearing to be postponed.

The disciplinary officer concluded that Mr Wiltshire had:

  • admitted and condoned the practice and
  • failed to report or stop it.

He had no option but to dismiss him for gross misconduct.

Mr Wiltshire appealed and his appeal was unsuccessful. He claimed unfair and wrongful dismissal.

The tribunal upheld the claims. It decided that CRO had not undertaken a reasonable investigation. It felt that CRO was scape-goating him for their failure to address the issue. CRO appealed.

The EAT decision

The EAT allowed the appeal.

Mr Wiltshire admitted knowledge of the practice and doing nothing about it, knowing it was a serious breach of health and safety rules. He had also highlighted custom and practice. The EAT considered that was a question of whether there was a conflict of evidence which may reasonably require further investigation. It also could not be sure that all relevant matters were taken into account.

The case is to be heard by a new employment tribunal in due course.

In practice

It is very easy for employers to assume, in light of an admission, that no investigation needs to be undertaken. In some cases this will be true but not in all, as is evidenced here. Even with an admission there may still be questions that need to be investigated and considered before a fair decision can be reached.

Book a phone consultation

Apply for a FREE phone consultation with one of our employment law solicitors to discuss your case, how we can help and find out how much it is likely to cost.

Selected evening and weekend appointments available.

Simon Quantrill

How can we
help you?

01473 688100

Tell us about your case

Our online form is the easy way to tell us about your case and employment details.

Short of time? Our ‘save and resume’ feature lets you save your answers and complete the form later.

Reasons to Choose
Quantrills Solicitors

Trusted advice

Attention to attention

Speed of response

Pragmatic solutions

FREE Employer

Subscribe to our email based hrlegalnews to receive details of our Knowledge Bank & HR Updates updates and our forthcoming events.

Client Testimonials

View more

Becoming our client is a straightforward process. However, before choosing Quantrills as your employment law solicitors you’ll want to be completely sure we are the right people to help you achieve your objectives. Having looked at our web site, if you like our approach and would like to discuss how we can help you, getting started is easy.

Step 1

Get in Contact

Contact us and tell us a little about your problem and the help you are looking for.

Step 2

We’ll contact you

We’ll follow up with a free no obligation initial telephone call or email to discuss your case.

Step 3

Invitation to become our client

Provided we are happy we can help you, we’ll invite you to become our client.

Step 4

You instruct us

If you agree to our invitation, you simply have to confirm this is writing or by email and confirm your instructions.

Step 5

We’ll start to act for you

Congratulations! You are now a client of Quantrills and we’ll start work on your instructions.

At Quantrills we are flexible in how we work with you and how we progress your case...

In Person

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Get Directions

By Telephone

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

01473 688 100

Or request a call back

By Online Form

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

View Forms

By Email

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Email us