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Dismissal decision fair – restored by Court of Appeal
In Stuart v London City Airport Limited, (commented on in previous editions of the Update during its progress through the lower courts) the Court of Appeal has restored a Tribunal decision to dismiss an unfair dismissal claim and held that …
In Stuart v London City Airport Limited, (commented on in previous editions of the Update during its progress through the lower courts) the Court of Appeal has restored a Tribunal decision to dismiss an unfair dismissal claim and held that the decision to dismiss was fair, not withstanding the fact that the employer had not conducted further investigations into the circumstances in which the dismissed employee left the shop.
The situation occurred when an employee left a shop at City Airport where he worked, carrying items for which he had not paid. The Court of Appeal held that in the circumstances the employer could not be criticised for not undertaking further investigation because it was reasonable for the employer to conclude, in all the circumstances, that the employee was not telling the truth when he stated that he genuinely did not realise he had left the boundaries of the shop. On this basis the Court of Appeal held that the employer was entitled to take a contrary view of the employee’s creditability and conflicting evidence to that of the employee even though it did not view available CCTV footage or speak to other witnesses.
Interestingly, prior to the Tribunal claim, the Claimant was tried and acquitted of theft in the Criminal Courts. It is therefore understandable by he would feel aggrieved at losing an unfair dismissal claim. However, this case endorses the fact that in cases of dismissal it is the employer’s reasonable belief which has to be taken into account and is the point on which the Tribunal should focus in deciding unfair dismissal claims. In this case, the Court of Appeal held that the employer did have a reasonable belief that the employee was not telling the truth.
This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.
For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.