Hall v Woolston Hall Leisure Limited: CA 23 May 2000

The fact that an employment contract was tainted with illegality of which the employee was aware, did not deprive the employee of the possibility of claiming rights which were due to her under a statute which created rights associated with but not dependent upon the contract. There could be no derogation from the European Directive upon which the national legislation was based, and the rights created by the directive were not dependent upon the contract. ‘In two types of case it is well established that illegality renders a contract unenforceable from the outset. One is where the contract is entered into with the intention of committing an illegal act; the other is where the contract is expressly or implicitly prohibited by statute.’ but ‘in cases where the contract of employment is neither entered into for an illegal purpose nor prohibited by statute, the illegal performance of the contract will not render the contract unenforceable unless in addition to knowledge of the facts which make the performance illegal the employee actively particpates in the illegal performance.’ It is the discrimination that is the core of the complaint, the fact of employment and the dismissal being the particular factual circumstances which Parliament has prescribed for the disability discrimination complaint to be capable of being made.


Gibson LJ


Times 31-May-2000, Gazette 15-Jun-2000, [2000] EWCA Civ 170, [2001] ICR 99, [2001] 1 WLR 225, [2000] 4 All ER 787




Equal Treatment Directive (76/207/EEC), Sex Discrimination Act 1975


England and Wales


CitedHolman v Johnson 5-Jul-1775
ex turpi causa non oritur actio
A claim was made for the price of goods which the plaintiff sold to the defendant in Dunkirk, knowing that the defendant’s purpose was to smuggle the goods into England. The plaintiff was met with a defence of illegality.
Held: The defence . .
CitedSt John Shipping Corporation v Joseph Rank Limited 1956
The defendants held a bill of lading for part of the cargo carried on the plaintiffs’ vessel from Mobile, Alabama, to Birkenhead. The vessel was over laden and the plaintiffs were guilty of an offence under the 1932 Act. The defendants relied on the . .
CitedAshmore, Benson, Pease and Co v A V Dawson Ltd CA 1973
By acquiescing in the unlawful overloading of the hauliers’ lorries, the consignors’ assistant transport manager and his assistant made the haulage contract unenforceable at the instance of the consignors, who were unable to recover when a lorry . .
CitedCoral Leisure Group Ltd v Barnett EAT 1981
The court was asked whether any taint of illegality affecting part of a contract necessarily rendered the whole contract unenforceable by a party who knew of the illegality. In the case of a contract not for an illegal purpose or prohibited by . .
CitedNewland v Simons and Willer (Hairdressers) Ltd 1981
The court was asked whether an employee could complain of unfair dismissal where the tribunal had held that the employee knew or ought to have known that her employer had failed to pay tax and national insurance contributions in respect of her . .
Appeal fromHall v Woolston Hall Leisure Ltd EAT 5-Feb-1998
. .

Cited by:

Cited21st Century Logistic Solutions Limited (In Liquidation) v Madysen Limited QBD 17-Feb-2004
The vendor sold computers to the defendant, intending not to account to the commissioners for the VAT. The seller went into liquidation, and the liquidator sought payment. The purchaser had been unaware of the intended fraud and resisted payment. . .
CitedArchibald v Fife Council HL 1-Jul-2004
The claimant was employed as a street sweeper. She suffered injury to her health making it difficult to do her work. She was dismissed, and claimed that being disabled, the employer had not made reasonable adjustments to find alternative work for . .
CitedV v Addey and Stanhope School CA 30-Jul-2004
The respondent resisted a claim of unfair dismissal and race discrimination on the basis that the employment contract was illegal since the claimant was an immigrant and unable to work without a work permit.
Held: The Court of Appeal upheld a . .
CitedWheeler v Qualitydeep Ltd. (T/A Thai Royale Restaurant) CA 30-Jul-2004
The employee, a foreign national with only limited command of English, claimed unfair dismissal. It was responded on behalf of her former employers, now in liquidation, that there could be no unfair dismissal since there had been no deductions of . .
CitedWitkowska v Kaminski ChD 25-Jul-2006
The claimant sought provision from the estate claiming to have lived with the deceased as his partner for the two years preceding his death. She appealed an order which would be enough to allow her to live in Poland, but not in England. She said . .
CitedEnfield Technical Services Ltd v Payne and Another CA 22-Apr-2008
The appellant company appealed dismissal of their defence to a claim for unfair dismissal that the employment contract was tainted with illegality. The EAT had heard two cases with raised the question of the effect on unfair dismissal claims of . .
CitedHounga v Allen and Another SC 30-Jul-2014
The appellant, of Nigerian origin had been brought here at the age of 14 with false identity papers, and was put to work caring for the respondent’s children. In 2008 she was dismissed and ejected from the house. She brought proceedings alleging . .
CitedPatel v Mirza SC 20-Jul-2016
The claimant advanced funds to the respondent for him to invest in a bank of which the claimant had insider knowledge. In fact the defendant did not invest the funds, the knowledge was incorrect. The defendant however did not return the sums . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Discrimination, Contract

Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.147203