Miles v Wakefield Metropolitan District Council: HL 1987

The claimant was a superintendent registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages. His union instructed him not to conduct weddings on Saturdays. He had been told that if he failed to perform his full range of duties on a Saturday (including marriages), he would not be required to attend for work and would not be paid. The refusal to conduct marriages on the Saturday was met with deduction of 3/37ths of his weekly salary. He sued for payment of the sums withheld sum compliance with that instruction.
Held: His position was akin to an employee even if he was not strictly such but rather an office holder. His right to be paid depended upon his doing the work he was employed to do.
The deductions were proper. The salary payable under a contract of employment is part of the mutual obligations it contains as between the parties. An employee could expect payment if he or she worked in accord with the contract. Failure to work normally was fatal to an employee’s claim to enforce a right to his/her salary.
Boston -v- Ansell was authority for saying: ‘An employee, for instance, who is rightly dismissed from his employment can recover salary which has become due and payable at the date of his dismissal but cannot recover sums becoming due and payable at some later date and on the condition that he has performed his contractual duties down to that date.’
Lord Templeman said: ‘It is unusual for the holder of an office to take industrial action and the consequences will depend on the rights and obligations conferred and imposed on the office-holder by the terms of his appointment. But if an ambassador and the embassy porter were both on strike then I would expect both to be liable to lose or both to be entitled to claim their apportioned remuneration attributable to the period of the strike. A judge and an usher on strike should arguably be treated in the same manner. The ambassador might be required to decode a declaration of war on Sunday, and a judge might devote his Christmas holidays to the elucidation of legal problems arising from industrial action, so that it would be necessary to divide their annual salaries by 365 to define a daily rate applicable to the period of strike, whereas the weekly, daily or hourly wages of the porter and the usher provide a different basis for apportionment, . . ‘


Lord Oliver of Aylmerton, Lord Templeman


[1987] ICR 368, [1987] 2 WLR 795, [1987] 1 AC 539, [1987] UKHL 15, [1987] IRLR 193, [1987] 1 All ER 1089, [1987] 1 FTLR 533




England and Wales


CitedBoston Deep Sea Fishing and Ice Co v Ansell CA 1888
An employer having dismissed an employee (its managing director) later learnt of the employee’s fraud.
Held: The employer was allowed to rely upon that fraud to justify the dismissal. Where an agent is in wrongful repudiation of his contract . .

Cited by:

CitedLeonard Batty v BSB Holdings (Cudworth) Ltd CA 24-May-2002
The employee was former managing director employed as consultant on a fixed term contract. After differences with the new management, he was off work with stress. The company sought to suspend him. He claimed that the company had repudiated the . .
CitedFassihim, Liddiardrams, International Ltd, Isograph Ltd v Item Software (UK) Ltd CA 30-Sep-2004
The first defendant (F) had been employed by a company involved in a distribution agreement. He had sought to set up a competing arrangement whilst a director of the claimant, and diverted a contract to his new company.
Held: A company . .
CitedPercy v Church of Scotland Board of National Mission HL 15-Dec-2005
The claimant appealed after her claim for sex discrimination had failed. She had been dismissed from her position an associate minister of the church. The court had found that it had no jurisdiction, saying that her appointment was not an . .
CitedSG and R Valuation Service Co v Boudrais and others QBD 12-May-2008
The claimant sought to require the defendants not to work during their notice period to achieve the equivalent of garden leave despite there being no provision for garden leave in the contracts. It was said that the defendants had conspired together . .
CitedBuckland v Bournemouth University Higher Education Corporation CA 24-Feb-2010
The claimant had been dismissed from his post as chair of archeology after criticism of his marking practices. Though a report vindicated him, the respondent continued with disciplinary procedures. He claimed unfair dismissal. The EAT had allowed . .
CitedSociete Generale, London Branch v Geys SC 19-Dec-2012
The claimant’s employment by the bank had been terminated. The parties disputed the sums due, and the date of the termination of the contract. The court was asked ‘Does a repudiation of a contract of employment by the employer which takes the form . .
CitedSpackman v London Metropolitan University Misc 13-Jul-2007
Shoreditch County Court – claim brought by an employee against her employer arising from non-payment of part of her salary. Normally such a claim would be made under the statutory jurisdiction of an Employment Tribunal. But it is agreed that access . .
CitedHartley and Others v King Edward VI College SC 24-May-2017
The teacher appellants challenged the quantification of deductions from their salaries after engaging in lawful strike days.
Held: The appeal as allowed. The correct approach under section 2 to a case like this, where the contract is an annual . .
CitedGilham v Ministry of Justice SC 16-Oct-2019
The Court was asked whether a district judge qualifies as a ‘worker’ for the purpose of the protection given to whistle-blowers under Part IVA of the 1996 Act, and if not then was the absence of protection an infringement of her human rights.
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Local Government

Updated: 21 April 2022; Ref: scu.182993