Kwik-Fit (GB) Ltd v Lineham: EAT 5 Feb 1992

The applicant claimed unfair dismissal. The employer replied that the employee had resigned.
Held: The employer’s appeal was dismissed. The resignation had taken place in a heated moment, and it was not conclusive. An employer may not be able to rely upon a resignation made by an employee which had obviously been made in the heat of the moment. Constructive dismissal might still be a possibility. However (Wood J) ‘As we have said the industrial members take the view that the way in which this industrial tribunal have expressed themselves puts too high a burden upon employers. If words of resignation are unambiguous then prima facie an employer is entitled to treat them as such, but in the field of employment personalities constitute an important consideration. Words may be spoken or actions expressed in temper or in the heat of the moment or under extreme pressure (‘being jostled into a decision’) and indeed the intellectual make-up of an employee may be relevant: (and he gives a citation). These we refer to as `special circumstances’. Where `special circumstances’ arise it may be unreasonable for an employer to assume a resignation and to accept it forthwith. A reasonable period of time should be allowed to lapse and if circumstances arise during that period which put the employer on notice that that further inquiry is desirable to see whether the resignation was really intended and can properly be assumed, then such inquiry is ignored at the employer’s risk. He runs the risk that ultimately evidence may be forthcoming which indicates that in the `special circumstances’ the intention to resign was not the correct interpretation when the facts are judged objectively’.


Wood J


Gazette 05-Feb-1992, [1991] UKEAT 250 – 91 – 2410, [1992] ICR 183, [1992] IRLR 156




CitedChesham Shipping Ltd v Rowe 1977
. .
CitedSothern v Frank Charlesly and Co CA 1981
Where an employee gives an unequivocal and unambiguous notice of his resignation, then that can be accepted by an employer and there is no dismissal. Where the unambiguous words are said in a moment of anger or in the heat of the moment or where . .
CitedJ and J Stern v Simpson 1983
Unambiguous words of an employee resigning should be accepted as such. . .
CitedMartin v Yeoman Aggregates Ltd EAT 1983
A director of the employer had engaged in an argument with the employee claimant, which resulted in the director telling the employee he was dismissed. Within five minutes, the director cooled down and retracted the dismissal. The employee insisted . .
CitedSovereign House Security Services Ltd v Savage CA 1989
S was employed as a Security Officer. After discovering a cash shortage, his superior, P, rang him and suspended him forthwith pending police investigations. S responded by saying ‘I am not having any of that, you can stuff it, I am not taking the . .
CitedWestern Excavating (ECC) Ltd v Sharp CA 1978
To succeed in a claim for constructive dismissal the plaintiff must establish a breach of contract by the defendant, that the breach was sufficiently serious to have justified the claimant resigning, or at least be the last in a series of events . .
CitedTanner v D T Kean Ltd EAT 1978
The court was asked whether the words used by the claimant were an unambiguous statemet of an intent to resign. . .
CitedBarclay v Glasgow District Council 1983
B who was mentally disabled, worked cleaning up swing-parks. There was an altercation with the District Manager and the Foreman which ended by Mr Barclay saying that he wanted his books ‘the next day.’ The next day was a pay day and the manager gave . .
CitedLondon 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 . .
CitedGale Ltd v Gilbert EAT 1978
The claimant had worked for the employer for many years. There was a disagreement, and the employee said ‘I am leaving, I want my cards’. He claimed unfair dismissal.
Held: The EAT upheld the employer’s appeal against a finding of unfair . .

Cited by:

CitedGrainger v Pat Kirk Limited NIIT 7-Apr-2005
. .
CitedGrainger v Pat Kirk Limited FENI 7-Apr-2005
. .
CitedRoberts v Messrs F J and J Frost EAT 6-Oct-1993
. .
CitedSquires v Hill Brothers (Chichester) Ltd EAT 23-Jan-1995
. .
CitedLeeds Private Hospital Ltd v Sayles EAT 25-Jul-1995
. .
CitedRugby Travel Specialists Ltd v Spender EAT 16-Jul-1997
. .
CitedTheodosopoulou v Bank of Cyprus (London) Ltd EAT 15-Jul-1999
. .
CitedWalker v Heathrow Refuelling Services Company Ltd and others EAT 6-Oct-2004
. .
CitedLiverpool Community College v Bogart EAT 5-Jul-2006
EAT Unfair dismissal – dismissal/ambiguous resignation
ET was required to decide a preliminary issue whether the Respondent agreed that the Claimant could withdraw his notice. In a majority judgment, they . .
CitedAli v Birmingham City Council EAT 27-Oct-2008
EAT UNFAIR DISMISSAL: Dismissal/ambiguous resignation
1. The claimant handed in a letter of resignation to the respondents and he was then given a period of about 30 minutes to reconsider his decision.
CitedWilloughby v C F Capital Plc EAT 13-Jul-2010
EAT UNFAIR DISMISSAL – Dismissal/ambiguous resignation
Whether employee was dismissed – unambiguous words of dismissal used by employer – Tribunal erred in law in holding that by reason of ‘special . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.82875