The parties disputed the effective date of termination of the claimant’s employment. Was it the date on which the letter notifying her was sent, or was it on the day she received it. She had been dimissed without notice, and the date was the date on which it took effect. The court was asked whether the date was to be determined by the principles of cntract law or by virtue of the statute.
Held: The employer’s appeal failed: ‘We do not consider . . that what has been described as the ‘general law of contract’ should provide a preliminary guide to the proper interpretation of section 97 of the 1996 Act, much less that it should be determinative of that issue . . The need to segregate intellectually common law principles relating to contract law, even in the field of employment, from statutorily conferred rights is fundamental. The common law recognised certain employment rights, but the right at common law not to be wrongfully dismissed is significantly narrower than the statutory protection against unfair dismissal . . The construction and application of that provision must be guided principally by the underlying purpose of the statute viz the protection of the employee’s rights. Viewed through that particular prism, it is not difficult to conclude that the well established rule that an employee is entitled either to be informed or at least to have the reasonable chance of finding out that he has been dismissed before time begins to run against him is firmly anchored to the overall objective of the legislation.’
Lord Hope, Deputy President, Lord Saville, Lord Walker, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr
 UKSC 41,  IRLR 1073,  4 All ER 851,  ICR 1475, UKSC 2009/0157
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary
Employment Rights Act 1996 97(1) 111, Employment Rights (Dispute Resolution) Act 1998
England and Wales
Appeal from – Gisda Cyf v Barratt CA 2-Jul-2009
The employer wrote to the employee on 29 November 2006 informing her of her dismissal, the letter arrived on the 30th, and she read it on the 4th of December. The employer appealed against a finding that the effective date of dismissal was the date . .
At EAT – Gisda Cyf v Barratt EAT 24-Jul-2008
EAT JURISDICTIONAL POINTS: Claim in time and effective date of termination
Where a decision to dismiss is communicated by a letter sent to the employee at home, and the employee has neither gone away . .
Cited – Brimnes, the Tenax Steamship Co v Brimnes, Owners of CA 23-May-1974
The ship’s owners sent a telex to the charterers at 5.45 pm on 2 April 1970 withdrawing the vessel for late payment of the hire charge. The charterers’ normal business hours ended at 6.00 pm. The telex was not seen until the morning of 3 April, . .
Cited – Brown v Southall and Knight EAT 1980
The employee had gone on holiday at the time when the letter of dismissal arrived at his home and he did not actually see it until he had returned from his holiday.
Held: The ‘effective date of termination’ is a statutory concept which focuses . .
Cited – London Transport Executive v Clarke CA 1981
The employee had taken unauthorised leave to go to Jamaica. After sending two letters to his home address asking for an explanation and giving an ultimatum, the employers wrote on 26 March saying that his name had been permanently removed from their . .
Cited – State Trading Corporation of India Ltd v M Golodetz Ltd CA 1989
Kerr LJ said: ‘What is commonly referred to as an acceptance of a repudiation must be communicated to the party in breach or at least overtly evinced. . An unequivocal act which is inconsistent with the subsistence of the contract may be sufficient, . .
Emphatically Approved – McMaster v Manchester Airport Plc EAT 27-Oct-1997
The claimant was summarily dismissed by letter while on sickness leave. The letter arrived 9 November 1995, but he was on a day trip to France. He read the letter on return the day after. His unfair dismissal complaint was received by the industrial . .
Cited – Johnson v Unisys Ltd HL 23-Mar-2001
The claimant contended for a common law remedy covering the same ground as the statutory right available to him under the Employment Rights Act 1996 through the Employment Tribunal system.
Held: The statutory system for compensation for unfair . .
Cited – Kirklees Metropolitan Council v Radecki CA 8-Apr-2009
The council appealed against a finding that the claimant’s case had been brought in time. There had been negotiations for a compromise agreement which had failed. The EAT had found it unclear that the employment had ended at the point asserted by . .
Cited – Potter and others v RJ Temple Plc (in liquidation) EAT 18-Dec-2003
The claimants faxed on the evening to the employers an acceptance of the employer’s repudiation of their contracts. The claim was not presented to the tribunal until the same day of the month three months later.
Held: The claim was out of . .
Cited – George v Luton Borough Council EAT 16-Sep-2003
EAT Time Limits – Effective date of termination
EAT The acceptance of the employer’s repudiatory breach had to be communicated, but there might be a distinction between . .
Cited – Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood SC 25-Apr-2018
Notice of dismissal begins when received by worker
The court was asked: ‘If an employee is dismissed on written notice posted to his home address, when does the notice period begin to run? Is it when the letter would have been delivered in the ordinary course of post? Or when it was in fact . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.425185