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Employment Appeal Tribunal determines that dismissal with no procedure following breakdown in working relations was not unfair

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld an employment tribunal’s finding that a dismissal for “some other substantial reason”, effected by an employer without following any procedure, was not unfair.  Following a breakdown in working relations between the claimant and her line manager, arising out of various workplace disagreements, the claimant was informed at her annual appraisal that she was being exited from the business due to a lack of trust.  However, there had been at least two previous meetings to consider the difficulties in the relationship.

The EAT noted that a failure to carry out any procedure would in many cases lead to the conclusion that the dismissal was outside the band of reasonable responses. However, where following procedures could reasonably be considered as being futile, the employer may dispense with them, a rare example of such a case.  The claimant was a senior manager whose continued good working relationship with her manager was critical during a difficult period for the employer’s business.  Having thoroughly considered the evidence, the tribunal had found not only that a procedure would not have served any useful purpose, but that it would have worsened the situation.  This was a conclusion it had been entitled to reach.  It was effectively a personality clash between two senior managers, where neither individual had trust and confidence in each other.  The evidence demonstrated that the claimant recognised the breakdown in relations herself and had no interest in repairing it.  Given the circumstances, the tribunal’s finding could stand.