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

4.76 Average

172 Reviews

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 5 days ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 5 days ago

Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

Posted 6 days ago

Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Timely professional advice!

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Very good service

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 months ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 months ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 2 months ago

Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

Posted 2 months ago