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.

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

4.52 Average

21 Reviews

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Steven

Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 4 weeks ago

Dinah

Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Ankar

At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Very efficient service. I never had to wIt for more than a day for a reply to any of my queries and the matter was dealt with swiftly.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Very timely, thorough and helpful advice. Friendly and considerate of the needs of the client

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Very prompt and attention to detail. Thank you for the service

Posted 1 month ago

Chris

Couldn’t be happier with how Redmans successfully handled our seemingly tricky case. By being clear and detailed every step of the way, with the utmost professionalism and courtesy, they made it an informative and eye-opening process, taking the stress out of the situation and ultimately delivered what you would want from such a service. I fully appreciate everything they have done, and if I am ever in need of such services in the future, they will be the first number I contact. Excellent.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent work delivered with great quality

Posted 1 month ago

Dominic

Chris Hadrill was a great help both in terms of his advice and his expertise. He explained my options to me clearly and concisely enabling me to quickly make the right decision for me in the circumstance. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris or Redmans to friends or colleagues, and would certainly make Redmans my first port of call should I require a similar service in the future.

Posted 1 month ago

Kurt

Redmans gave excellent advice and helped me understand everything in clear concepts. Thank you!

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Resolved my issues

Posted 1 month ago

Keith

Quick fast professional service.

Posted 1 month ago

Michael

"Prompt, efficient and practical advice that resulted in me getting some additional money tax free."

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Patient and thorough advice given to me around my Settlement Agreement

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

"Excellent service, getting back to you promptly giving you very good advice."

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

I found Chris Hadrill to be an excellent help, he is very knowledgeable and gives good ,concise ,strategic advice .He makes himself readily accessible when you need him.I would personally highly recommend him.

Posted 2 months ago

Christine

Professional, efficient and reliable service provided. I strongly recommend them and I would use this service again.

Posted 2 months ago