EAT holds that a claim that had no monetary award could proceed to a hearing

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In Evans v London Borough of Brent, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that an unfair dismissal claim, in which the claimant had no chance of receiving a monetary award, if successful, could still proceed.

Dr Evans, a deputy head teacher, had been involved in financial mismanagement which caused him to receive unauthorised overpayments from Copland Community School (his employer), and allowed another person to receive unauthorised overpayments. He was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct, having worked for the school for 12 years.

Dr Evans brought an unfair dismissal claim which was stayed while a High Court claim against him progressed. As a result of the High Court action, Dr Evans was ordered to repay more than £46,000 to the school. An additional £200,000 was deemed irrecoverable.

Dr Evan’s unfair dismissal claim resumed but was struck out by the Employment Tribunal. The school’s disciplinary process could be argued as procedurally unfair but since any compensation awarded would be unavoidably reduced to zero, the Tribunal struck this ground out. The Tribunal also held that, in light of the irrecoverable overpayments, making any compensation payment to Dr Evans would not be just and equitable.

The EAT upheld Dr Evans’ subsequent appeal and held that a finding of unfair dismissal, even without a compensatory award, could not be said to have no value. Nor could it be said that holding an employer to account for dismissing a long-serving employee in a procedurally unfair manner was not in the interest of justice.