Solicitor fails to persuade judge to reconsider unfair dismissal ruling

Watford Employment Tribunal: Application refused

An assistant solicitor who won his unfair dismissal claim solely on the basis of the procedure followed has failed to persuade the judge to reconsider his decision.

Employment Judge Davison in Watford decided that Mr EC Oise simply disagreed with the factual findings of the tribunal.

In the original decision, the employment tribunal decided that Luton firm Spring & Co was justified in dismissing Mr Oise over his refusal to follow a “reasonable management instruction” that he retract a letter to a client and apologise to the client for it.

However, Judge Davison ruled that the dismissal was procedurally unfair – the disciplinary meeting had gone ahead despite Mr Oise being signed off work due to ill-health.

Had the firm delayed the hearing by two weeks, he held, Mr Oise would still have been dismissed and that was a reasonable response by the firm to what had happened.

Mr Oise was awarded almost £1,200 after the damages were reduced by nearly half because of his conduct.

The solicitor applied for a reconsideration of the decision, but Judge Davison gave him short shrift.

“The claimant’s application is no more than a disagreement with the factual findings of the tribunal,” he said.

“The claimant’s argument made at the hearing (and repeated in the application for reconsideration) that his refusal to recall a letter dated 23 December 2019 and apologise to the client to whom the letter was sent, as he was instructed to do by his supervisor, was not a fair reason for dismissal and should not be considered in attributing contributory fault in assessing remedy were fully considered.

“The claimant did not dispute that he knew he had been both instructed to withdraw the offending letter and to apologise to the client. In light of this knowledge, he took the positive step to do neither, thereby refusing a direct management instruction.”

He was satisfied that the findings he made “were open to me on the evidence provided”.

In dismissing the application for reconsideration, Judge Davison concluded that there were “no reasonable prospects of the judgment being varied or revoked”.

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