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

4.72 Average

89 Reviews

Anonymous

I requested Redmans services on a redundancy case. Both Chris and Rana were great, thoughtful, very professional and responded quickly. They were very clear throughout the entire process, regarding the process and my options and I couldn't feel I had better legal advice for my case. Overall excellent service and I would certainly recommend and use their services again.

Posted 1 day ago

Anonymous

Responsive, patient, thorough and personable - an excellent service.

Posted 4 days ago

Anonymous

The team at Redmans, Chris Hadrill and Sacha Barrett were always very helpful and had expert knowledge to assist me during my employment law matter, I would not hesitate to recommend them to all!

Posted 4 days ago

Arun T

Chris was punctual, attentive and accurate. He answered my questions with clarity and avoided dubiosity. I would recommend him to anyone seeking legal advice within his remit.

Posted 5 days ago

Yulian Z

Great service

Posted 5 days ago

Anonymous

Excellent, professional service and a speedy resolution. Many thanks

Posted 5 days ago

Taral P

Sacha and Chris were both very helpful in closing out my matter. Sacha was very clear in helping me understanding the documents I needed reviewing, providing a professional service throughout.

Posted 5 days ago

Anonymous

Really pleased with the swift and professional service from Redmans. They provided very clear advice and helped conclude my matter with the minimum of stress or delay.

Posted 5 days ago

Matthew L

Redmans were very quick to respond to my initial enquiry, and provided me with a very effective and efficient service, generating a most satisfactory outcome. I would definitely use them again if the need arose.

Posted 6 days ago

Anonymous

First rate service. Warm and friendly whilst exceptionally efficient at the same time. I would highly recommend them.

Posted 6 days ago

Anonymous

Professional and helpful. Thorough and supportive.

Posted 6 days ago

Richard A

Excellent service, prompt replies, great advice

Posted 6 days ago

Anonymous

Very professional services

Posted 6 days ago

Margaret

Redmans Solicitors took a lot of the worry away and were very thoughtful and meticulous in their dealings with my case , thank you very mush , great service and a great job

Posted 1 month ago

Mark B

Prompt efficient service. Hourly, and part thereof, billing got a bit stressful at times - as opposed to flat fee - made me think twice about sending an email or making a quick call when I had a query because it would have eaten up minutes from my budget. But happy with the legal service I received overall and would recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill has provided a truly wonderful service and was willing to lend his support and expertise at a time when other solicitors, only wanted to discuss their fees! A clear thinking and down to earth professional, Chris can be trusted to listen carefully to your matter, cut through the fog, and advise you on the best (and most realistic) way forward, saving you time, money and heartache. It will be helpful if you first get your ducks in a row in terms of documents / evidence etc. and then contact Chris, (that’s what we did) as this will help your matter to be dealt with faster. The more organised and together you are the more successful you will be. You'll be fine with Chris, I highly recommend him. Good luck!

Posted 1 month ago

Richard v

Excellent Service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Very happy from service received. Highly recommend

Posted 1 month ago

Colin W

Very professional and thorough. Sachs who dealt with the bulk of my case was excellent Thank you. .

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I was generally impressed with the fast turn around, efficiency, responsiveness, and consideration of circumstances. I needed a couple of areas of advice quickly and with Redmans help was able to get to a conclusion quickly and with minimum stress. They were friendly and professional throughout - I'd use them again.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

The guidance and assistance I recently received when using Redman's was fantastic. Caroline & Chris were both very informative and understanding walking me through each step. Thank you.

Posted 2 months ago