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The issue of wrongful dismissal has been in the news recently. There is often confusion about what wrongful dismissal actually is, as compared to unfair dismissal, as evidenced from this article. Claims for wrongful dismissal normally “piggyback” on unfair dismissal or constructive unfair dismissal claims. However, in industries where there are large salaries and even larger contingent contractual incentives (such as bonuses or commission) the compensation that can be claimed from a wrongful dismissal claim can be as large (or even more so) than an actual unfair dismissal claim. In this post we’ll take a look at what a wrongful dismissal claim is and how employees can pursue their rights:

  1. What is a wrongful dismissal claim?
  2. Do I have a claim for wrongful dismissal?
  3. How do I pursue my claim for wrongful dismissal?

What is a wrongful dismissal claim?

A wrongful dismissal claim is a common law claim, as opposed to a unfair dismissal claim which is a creature of statute. A wrongful dismissal claim may arise (as you might have guessed) upon dismissal if the employer has breached the express or the implied terms of the contract when firing the employee. The remedy that can be obtained for a wrongful dismissal claim is that of damages – the employee is entitled to be compensated for any loss that flowed from the breach of contract by the employer.

Wrongful dismissal claims typically arise from the following types of breach of contract:

  1. A breach of a notice term – whether this notice term is express, implied or statutory in nature
  2. A breach of the contractual disciplinary or redundancy procedures; and/or
  3. Termination of a fixed term contract prior its expiry date

Do I have a claim for wrongful dismissal?

This all depends on the facts of your case. If your contract of employment has been terminated and you have been summarily dismissed then you may have a claim for wrongful dismissal and unfair dismissal (should you satisfy the necessary statutory qualifications for doing so). You should look at the facts of the matter and contact an employment law solicitor so that you can be advised on any claims that you may have.

How do I pursue my claim for wrongful dismissal?

You can either pursue your claim for breach of contract in the Employment Tribunal or the civil courts. The Employment Tribunal is more procedurally informal and less costly (in terms of court fees) but, equally, there is a cap placed on damages for breach of contract of £25,000 in the Employment Tribunal. If you have a high-value claim it may therefore be worth filing the claim in the civil courts.

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

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