Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

In the case of Arnold Clark Automobiles Ltd v Spoor UKEAT/0170/16/DA the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) held that the Employment Tribunal had not erred in finding that the dismissal of an employee for physical violence against another employee was unfair, as there was no error of law in the Tribunal’s decision.

Mr Spoor commenced employment with Arnold Clark Automobiles Ltd (“Arnold Clark”) in 1973 and was, at the times relevant to this case, a Motor Vehicle Technician.

On 27 April 2015 Mr Spoor momentarily lost his temper with a colleague over a minor issue and placed his hands on the colleague’s neck for a couple of seconds. This incident was reported by the colleague to his line manager, Mr French and Mr Spoor was interviewed by Mr French. In this interview Mr Spoor admitted that he may have caught his colleague’s throat but contended that he had not grabbed his colleague by the throat. On 28 April 2015 Mr Spoor approached his colleague to apologise for his actions and, later in the day, both Mr Spoor and his colleague were called by Mr Middleton (the Service Manager) to a meeting to discuss the incident. Mr Middleton informed Mr Spoor that he had decided not to take any formal disciplinary action regarding the incident but that he intended to issue Mr Spoor with a “letter of concern”, in line with Arnold Clark’s informal procedure. Mr Spoor again apologised to his colleague and confirmed that he knew that he was in the wrong and should not have done what he did. Mr Spoor and his colleague shook hands and they both returned to work.

On 28 April 2015 Mr French sent a copy of the “letter of concern” to Ms Kilshaw (Human Resources). Mr French confirmed that there had been “some handbags”, that a copy of the “letter of concern” would be issued to Mr Spoor, and that he was sending this to Ms Kilshaw for her records. Upon the receipt of Mr French’s email Ms Kilshaw became concerned that there had been an incident of physical violence, and decided that a formal investigation of the incident was required. Ms Kilshaw therefore interviewed Mr Spoor, Mr Chapman, and other colleagues, and suspended Mr Spoor pending a formal disciplinary hearing. On 30 April 2015 Ms Kilshaw sent Mr Spoor a letter stating that an outcome of the hearing may be dismissal.

On 6 May 2015 Mr Spoor attended a hearing. Mr French and Ms Fowler (Human Resources) also attended the hearing. At the end of the hearing Ms Fowler confirmed that Mr Spoor would be dismissed for gross misconduct as “…we deem any form of physical violence as unacceptable…”. She also stated that the company had a “zero tolerance policy” to physical violence and did not consider it appropriate to undertake a review of the context of the incident, including Mr Spoor’s length of service (42 years), his exemplary disciplinary record, and the level or degree of physical violence.

Mr Spoor appealed the decision to dismiss him but this was rejected. Mr Spoor made a claim to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal, and this came to a full hearing on 21 December 2015.  The Employment Tribunal found that the investigation undertaken by Arnold Clark was not reasonable in the circumstances as no attempt was made to discuss the matter with Mr French or Middleton and, in particular, to obtain their view of the seriousness of the incident. Further, the Tribunal also found that no reasonable employer would have dismissed in the circumstances, having proper regard to all of the circumstances including his length of service and previous record. The Tribunal did, however, find that Mr Spoor contributed to his own dismissal to the extent of 50 percent.

Arnold Clark appealed against this decision on four grounds, including that the Tribunal had impermissibly substituted its own view for that of Arnold Clark (“the First Ground”), that the Tribunal had misdirected itself by applying the guidance in the case of Ramphal v Department of Transport [2015] IRLR 985 (“the Second Ground”), that the Tribunal failed to make any finding as to whether Mr Spoor’s behaviour constituted gross misconduct (“the Third Ground”), and that the Tribunal had acted perversely as this was not a decision that any reasonable Tribunal properly directly itself on the law could have reached (“the Fourth Ground”).

The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected the First Ground and Fourth Grounds of appeal but found that Arnold Clark’s appeals on the Second Ground Third Ground had some merit, as, respectively, Ramphal was not applicable in the circumstances and the Tribunal had failed to give specific reasons as to whether they had found Mr Spoor’s behaviour to be gross misconduct under Arnold Clark’s disciplinary policy. However, the EAT found that the merits of these grounds of appeal were not sufficient to merit the upholding of the appeal, as the EAT were satisfied that Arnold Clark had failed to take into account all the circumstances (including Mr Spoor’s exemplary service and the seriousness of the incident) when reaching its decision to dismiss.

The EAT also dismissed an argument that Mr Spoor had contributed to his own dismissal to the extent of 100 percent.

The EAT therefore rejected Arnold Clark’s appeal.

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that employers must carefully apply their disciplinary policy and take into account all of the circumstances of the case before making any decision to dismiss – a failure to do so may render any decision to dismiss unfair.”


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 first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry


    4.80 Average

    346 Reviews


    I dealt with Chris Hadrill who was very knowledgeable and professional. To provide some context, I raised a grievance with my Employer and with the help of Redmans received a settlement offer. I have secured alternative employment and would recommend Redmans overall. I was very satisfied with the service I received and would rate it as 5 star.

    Posted 7 hours ago

    Danielle T

    I contacted Redmans in regards to a situation I needed dealing with with my employer. This was resolved within a week of initial contact and I couldn’t be happier. Both Chris and Sacha were brilliant and couldn’t have been more helpful! Thanks guys!

    Posted 1 day ago


    Quick proccessing of my Redundancy agreement.

    Posted 4 days ago


    Fantastic support during a difficult time! Chris was fantastic, from the first conversation all the way through a difficult process. Chris supported me with a settlement agreement and his counsel was invaluable. The company I worked for tried to suggest some solicitors that they knew would simply rush through an agreement. Thankfully I found Chris and the Redmans team, what a relief! They fought for me and allowed me to keep my focus on the next stage in my career journey. If I go through anything similar in the future Redmans will be my first point of call!

    Posted 5 days ago


    Quick responses to all inquiries. Supportive and provided top-notch service. Extremely pleased with the outcome and would recommend to anyone in need of legal advise.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Ben H

    Good, quick and informative service.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Edward W

    I liked Mel Chin's approach to my inctruction. She provided clear advice and explained things in a manner that I understand. I rated her service 5 out of 5.

    Posted 1 week ago

    James B

    Great and prompt service- would recommend and use again!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Emma L

    Excellent service. From start the team where efficient and helpful, the whole process was made easy on a very stressful and upsetting situation. They worked well to support my situation and negotiate. Would highly recommend. Thank you to Chris, Sacha and the team.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Brian H

    I must say, not seeing any of you and doing all on-line works very well. Very pleased with the service and would recommend you. Fantastic service. Many thanks Brian Haines

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sheenu A

    Professionals with excellent quality of work.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Maris T

    I recommend Redman's Solicitors. Chris was very helpful and informative. He provided a speedy and efficient service at a reasonable price.

    Posted 3 weeks ago


    quick response, friendly staff, my issue was smoothly done. superb

    Posted 4 weeks ago


    Overall I was very satisfied with the service I received. Right from making initial contact to being contacted by Chris Hadrill. He was easy to talk to, friendly and professional and gave sound advice. I would certainly use Redman's again. Thank you for all your help, Chris. I would rate my experience as 5 star.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jane K

    4 stars for quality of advise. the team are good but it feels rushed sometimes and hard to contact.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Arabella B

    I am so grateful to Caroline Lewis at Redmans Solicitor’s for helping me with my Unfair Dismissal Case. I was seriously impressed how easy Redmans made the whole case, and am very happy with my Settlement. I have recommended your firm to at least 5 people in the last 3 months.. Thank you Caroline and everyone at Redmans. You are Brilliant .

    Posted 1 month ago


    Highly professional and efficient service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Tanya T

    I had the pleasure of Chris and Sacha’s experience with a work matter. They made me feel at ease with the process and explained everything thoroughly. Would happily recommend Redmans especially Chris and use them if needed I’m the future. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago


    I used the services of Redmans solicitors and was a quick outstanding service I engaged them in a settlement agreement after been made redundant extremely professional at all that was done and would definetly use them again

    Posted 1 month ago

    Adrian A

    Spot on support, enough to get the matter at hand sorted. No beating around the bush, no nonsense - got the job done and we all moved on.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 1 month ago