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Case Study: Successfully Defending a Constructive Unfair Dismissal Claim

Employment Lawyers Unfair dismissal advice for employers


How Sarah Henderson, an Employment Law solicitor based in our Haywards Heath office, succeeded in defending an employee’s unfair constructive dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal.

The Situation

Our client, Richard, was a sole principal of Jerry and Co, a local accountancy firm. On reprimanding a long-standing employee, Susan, about taking personal phone calls at work, she walked out of the office saying she was resigning. Susan did not return to work the next day. Richard accepted her resignation and sent her P45.

Susan lodged a claim for constructive unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal claiming that Richard’s conduct had broken the implied term of mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee.

What Martin Searle Solicitors Did

Richard sought our advice after Susan had issued her claim in the Employment Tribunal. We advised Richard that he had good prospects of defending the claim on the basis that his conduct was not repudiatory and/or that she had not resigned in response to any repudiatory conduct.

We prepared a robust defence to this claim and prepared the case for the hearing. This involved taking six witness statements as there were a number of employees who had overheard the exchange between Richard and Susan which was key to the issues to be decided by the Tribunal.

This case turned on whether Susan had actually resigned or just indicated her intention to resign at some point in the future.

The Result

The case was heard before the Employment Tribunal in London over 1 day. Susan’s claim was dismissed. The Employment Judge found that Richard’s conduct, which had led to Susan’s resignation, was not an indication that he had breached the implied term of mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee. The Judge found that Richard had every right to challenge Susan’s personal use of the telephone during work time. This was in line with our initial advice.

Richard was pleased with the outcome and the Judge’s endorsement of his reaction as this meant that there was no reputational risk to his business.

If you need advice because your employee is raising a formal grievance or has indicated that they intend to bring a claim against you and / or your firm, please contact us today on 01273 609911, or email

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

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