Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

We wrote recently about the essential elements of a contract when looking at construction. In a recent appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal had to consider the essential elements of a contract in terms of its formation, and whether it existed at all.

The facts in Evergreen Timber Frames v Harrington

The Claimant, Mr Harrington had been employed by the Respondent, Evergreen Timber Frames, as a manager. Due to difficult trading conditions, Mr Harrington’s employment was terminated by reason of redundancy. Mr Harrington brought a claim in the ET for breach of contract. His claim concerned his assertion that the Respondent had agreed with him that, as part of his redundancy, he would be given a company car, company laptop, and a bonus months’ pay. The appeal to the EAT focussed on the car, which was the only element of the claim for which the ET ruled in the Claimant’s favour.

Mr Harrington claimed that his letter of redundancy included an offer of the car, which he had subsequently accepted. The letter stated that the Respondent “would also like to gift [him] a Nissan Qashqai”. In his reply to that letter, appealing some of the other terms, Mr Harrington accepted the term concerning the car.

The law and the appeal

In contract law, there are a number of things which are needed for a contract to be formed. Those are:

  • An offer
  • An acceptance
  • Consideration
  • Intention to form legal relations

The main area of dispute in this case was about the offer and acceptance. The Respondent appealed in relation to first the offer, claiming that the redundancy letter didn’t constitute an offer in a contractual sense. The subsequent ground was that, even if the letter did count as an offer, it hadn’t been accepted when Mr Harrington wrote his letter of appeal.

The offer

Judge Barry Clarke in the EAT ruled that the letter of redundancy had indeed been an offer for the transfer car. He dismissed the Respondent’s arguments that the words “gift” rendered this unenforceable; the context of a contractual and statutory letter was enough to give it its true meaning as an offer.

The acceptance

Judge Clarke, however, did not agree with the ET’s decision that Mr Harrington’s reply had constituted an acceptance. The reason for this was that it risked things becoming far too complex; in a redundancy negotiation, there may be many back-and-forth letters between the parties before a final agreement is reached. To take one portion of an offer and accept it, whilst trying to improve the other elements of it, was not a valid acceptance, said Judge Clarke. He drew attention to the relevant passage in Chitty on Contracts (33rd Edition):

“A communication may fail to take effect as an acceptance because it attempts to vary the terms of an offer. Thus an offer to sell 1,200 tons of iron is not accepted by a reply asking for 800 tons”


The Respondent’s appeal was allowed on the acceptance ground, but not on the offer ground. Judge Clarke remitted the case back to a differently constituted ET, as there were elements of the Claimant’s case which had not been brought decided on by the initial tribunal which may now become more important after the result of the appeal.

This case is another example of the fact that, although an employment lawyer’s wheelhouse might be issues of employment, they must be brushed up on their contract law, too.

Link to judgment: https://www.gov.uk/employment-appeal-tribunal-decisions/evergreen-timber-frames-v-mr-n-k-harrington-ukeat-slash-0072-slash-20-slash-at-v


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


    4.81 Average

    313 Reviews


    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 days ago


    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 4 days ago


    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 4 days ago


    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 5 days ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 3 weeks ago


    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    William A

    Second time I have had to use Redmans. They did not disappoint. They are fast , efficient and friendly. I have already recommended them to friends and colleagues. I hope I dont have to use them again but if I have to , they are the solicitors for me.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Fleeta C

    Great service with tantastic communications. The solicitor responsible is extremely knowledgeable and was responsible for bringing a timely and desired solution.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Veronica M

    Extremely helpful, starting from a request for advice at very short notice, to dedicating time for me to understand and review all documents thoroughly.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Sophie R

    Very efficient and professional service. Chris was very empathetic, knowledgeable and personable. Highly recommended.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Melanie M

    Very happy with the detailed advice provided from Redmans. They also helped me to secure a higher settlement than originally offered by my employer and were extremely diligent. I first spoke with Chris at relatively short notice and then Sacha dealt with my case. Would definitely recommend and use again in the future if needed.

    Posted 1 month ago


    Redmans helped me with a work related issue, which was resolved quickly and professionally. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    James F

    Great people, really friendly and professional helped with everything that I needed.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anusha S

    My case was handled by Sacha who was very thorough and helped me to achieve a good outcome with my employer. Sacha was very personal, professional and helped me during quite a stressful time, so I am hugely grateful to her and to Redmans. This was my first time engaging with a law firm so I wasn't sure what to expect but I can definitely say that it was a good experience overall and I ended up better off due to having the help of an experienced and proactive solicitor on my side.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Diane P

    So grateful that I contacted Redmans to deal with my Redundancy Agreement. Everything from the initial call to the completion of the matter was professional, efficient and effective. I was listened to, had everything explained simply and kept informed of every step. I received super advice and the costs were very competitive. I would highly recommend them to anyone seeking similar help. First class service - thank you

    Posted 1 month ago

    Chris L

    It was a very efficient and effective service - Would recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago