Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Lawrence v Newlaw Limited ET/2300423/2016 the Employment Tribunal held that a solicitor had been unfairly dismissed by her employer after her employment was terminated on allegations of gross negligence.

The facts in Lawrence v Newlaw Legal Limited

Ms Lawrence worked as a personal injury solicitor for Newlaw Legal Limited (“Newlaw”), a firm of solicitors based in Cardiff and Bristol. She started work for the firm in April 2011.

In September 2015 an issue arose on one of the files that Ms Lawrence was supervising, with the allegation being that she had failed to draft and serve a witness statement prior to a trial. She was informed that this allegation could potentially constitute gross negligence. Ms Lawrence had been subjected to a disciplinary earlier in the year on an allegation that she had made errors on 7 files and had ignored an instruction from her line manager, receiving a final written warning. She had also previously been addressed on a number of occasions since her employment on the management of her files, and had been subjected a capability process in 2014 after failing to meet billing targets.

Ms Darlington, a team leader from the Bristol office, was assigned to undertake the investigation into the allegations of gross negligence. She reviewed Ms Lawrence’s files and decided to focus on two files (“AMB” and “PBA”). She reviewed the files and took a number of witness statements. She also emailed senior management at Newlaw a list of questions that she intended to ask Ms Lawrence at the investigation meeting and stated that she was willing to amend the questions should senior management have any comments.

An investigatory meeting was held on 1 October 2015. At this meeting Ms Lawrence was asked questions on the files and Ms Darlington recorded her responses in bullet-point form in relation to each allegation that had been raised. Her conclusion was that there was a case to answer and that the matter should proceed to a disciplinary hearing. There was then correspondence between two managers at the firm on 7 October 2015, with one informing the other that “there will now be a disciplinary hearing at dismissal stage (albeit not a foregone conclusion but is likely…) and “I am sure Sue and Nic will update you following the disciplinary and before dismissal”.

A disciplinary hearing took place on 16 October 2016 and the decision to dismiss Ms Lawrence was communicated to her by telephone on 6 November 2016. This was then followed up on 16 November 2016 with a letter informing her of the outcome, detailing that the disciplinary panel had concluded that her conduct “constituted gross negligence” and that she was to be summarily dismissed. However, this letter did not cogently explain why she had engaged in misconduct and, in particular, why a finding of gross misconduct had been made.

Ms Lawrence appealed against her dismissal and an appeal process was undertaken. A brief appeal process took place and Ms Lawrence’s dismissal was upheld by the appeals officer, Mr Pardon.

The Employment Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Tribunal found that Ms Lawrence’s dismissal had been unfair: a fair initial disciplinary and dismissal procedure had been followed but the appeal process was defective in two respects:

  1. The dismissal letter was “devoid of reasoning” and inadequate in explaining why the disciplinary panel had decided to dismiss Ms Lawrence
  2. Mr Pardon had not approached the appeal with an open mind and the appeal hearing had been “shockingly brief”, denying Ms Lawrence the opportunity to challenge her dismissal

The Tribunal did find, however, that a Polkey reduction was likely to apply in the circumstances, as well as a substantial reduction for contributory fault on Ms Lawrence’s part.

Our solicitors’ comments on the case

The transcript in the case of Lawrence v Newlaw Legal Limited can be found here.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

123 Reviews

Jake L

Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Excellent service. It was a pleasure to work with Chris H, who is brilliant at what he does and very efficient. Their Senior Associate Rana T. is also very knowledgeable and resolves any queries speedily and efficiently. My issue could unfortunately not be resolved, but that was due to my employer and not the firm. Redmans however did all they could. I would definitely recommend them.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Very pleasant and quick to deal with. Mnay thanks.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Easy to get hold of. Quick.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Owen J

Very helpful, efficient service.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I am very lucky that I worked with Mr. Chris Hadrill and he managed my case very progressively with an analytical approach and trustfully. Of course with a very positive result. I strongly recommend Mr. Hadrill to any one seeking for a successful result from a highly qualified solicitor.

Posted 1 month ago

Kulbir S

Amazing, quick friendly service from Chris from the start and Caroline. They made me feel at ease during a difficult time, they understood and advised accordingly and I am really happy with the outcome of my case. Will always advise anyone who needs legal advice to contact Redmans, I’m so glad that I did and can confidently say I don’t think any other firm could have handled my case any better. Well done guys, wish you all the best and please keep doing what your doing, simply the best!

Posted 1 month ago

Mark A

Excellent service - rapid and “to the point” advice given to ensure meeting the target time frame

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill kept me sane during the negotiations with my employer. He was courteous professional and he cared about doing the best he could for me. I will use Redmans again if ever I need an employment solicitor. Excellent service.

Posted 1 month ago

Muhammad Z

Awesome services. Professionals at their best .

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Thanks for the advice and for negotiating a good outcome. Good to have the support at a very stressful time

Posted 1 month ago

Chloe F

My solicitor at Redmans was very helpful and efficient. Really pleased with the smooth service.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris was absolutely excellent. Clear and concise, offering sound advice.

Posted 1 month ago

Tim O

Experienced and competent advisors

Posted 1 month ago

Rachel A

Quick and expert assistance. I would highly recommend Chris for any of your legal needs.

Posted 1 month ago

Joe S

I was very happy with the service provided by Chris and the team at Redmans Solicitors. I felt very comfortable discussing all matters with Chris and am very grateful for all the help and guidance I was given throughout the whole process. I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to friends and family!

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I had a very good experience working with Chris Hadrill during a difficult and emotional time. This held true from the moment I spoke to him on the phone, to the end of the process. Overall, he was attentive, professional and highly supportive. He provided sound advice and clarity. It was the reviews that led me to Redmans! I was very happy to know they were all true. I highly recommend working with Redmans Solicitors. Thank-you to the entire team!

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Good service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent professional service. Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Rob O

Very prompt response and I could not fault the service. My solicitor listened carefully to the details of my case and I felt very confident in the advice I was offered. All emails and work done on my behalf with my former employer was of the highest standard and Redmans helped take a lot of the stress out of the situation for me.

Posted 2 months ago

Mike H

Very professional, friendly, proactive. I would highly recommend Redmans.

Posted 2 months ago