Societe 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 of an express and immediate dismissal automatically terminate the contract?’
Held: Mr Gey’s appeal succeeded (Lord Sumption dissenting). A wrongful repudiation terminates the contract only if and when accepted by the innocent party. This, the elective theory, was preferred to the automatic theory which gave the repudiator control to choose a date which suited him to the detriment of the innocent party.
Baroness Hale JSC summarised the circumstances in which a term might be implied into a contract: ‘it is important to distinguish between two different kinds of implied terms. First, there are those terms which are implied into a particular contract because, on its proper construction, the parties must have intended to include them . . Such terms are only implied where it is necessary to give business efficacy to the particular contract in question. Second, there are those terms which are implied into a class of contractual relationship, such as between landlord and tenant or between employer and employee, where the parties may have left a good deal unsaid, but the courts have implied the term as a necessary incident of the relationship concerned, unless the parties have expressly excluded it . .’

Lord Hope, Deputy President, Lady Hale, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Carnwath
[2012] UKSC 63, [2012] WLR(D) 394, [2013] 2 WLR 50, UKSC 2011/0110, [2013] 1 All ER 1061, [2013] ICR 117, [2013] IRLR 122, [2013] 1 AC 523
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC, WLRD
England and Wales
At ChDGeys v Societe Generale, London Branch ChD 25-Mar-2010
The claimant said that he was entitled to payment of substantial sums on the determination of his employment contract.
Held: The court gave judgment for Mr Geys in a sum to be assessed, with a payment on account by 1 April 2010 of Euros 11m . .
Dissent ApprovedGunton v Richmond-upon-Thames London Borough Council CA 1980
The plaintiff college registrar had been the subject of disciplinary proceedings, but the defendant had not followed the contractual procedure. The judge had ordered an inquiry as to damages on the basis that the Plaintiff was entitled to remain in . .
CitedBoyo v London Borough of Lambeth CA 8-Mar-1994
An employee dismissed by his employer’s act of repudiation of the contract, is entitled to receive money in lieu of notice as well as compensation for a reasonable period for carrying out the appropriate disciplinary procedure.
Ralph Gibson LJ . .
At CASociete Generale, London Branch v Geys CA 30-Mar-2011
The defendant appealed against an award of substantial damages on its summary dismissal of the respondent said to be contractually due to him on termination.
Held: The appeal was allowed in part. The appellant was dismissed on 18 December . .
CitedMackay v Dick and Stevenson HL 1881
One party contracted to supply to the other ‘a steam navvy of novel construction’ on condition that it achieved a stipulated rate of excavation in stipulated circumstances. The purchaser did not make available the ‘opened up face’ that was necessary . .
CitedW and S Pollock and Co v Macrae HL 17-Jul-1922
Lord Dunedin said that to be effective, an exemption clause must be ‘most clearly and unambiguously expressed.’ . .
CitedAlderslade v Hendon Laundry Ltd CA 1945
Exclusion allowed where only one possible cause of
Articles were sent by the plaintiff to the defendants’ laundry to be washed, and they were lost. In an action by the plaintiff against the defendants for damages, the defendants relied on the following condition to limit their liability: ‘The . .
CitedCanada Steamship Lines Ltd v The King PC 21-Jan-1952
A lease of a freight shed exonerated the lessor from ‘any claim . . for . . damage . . to . . Goods . . being . . in the said shed’ and requiring the lessee to indemnify the lessor ‘from and against all claims’. The negligent use of an oxy-acetylene . .
CitedWhite and Carter (Councils) Ltd v McGregor HL 6-Dec-1961
Contractor not bound to accept Renunciation
Mr McGregor contracted with the appellants for them to display advertisements for three years on litter bins. The contract was made on his behalf by an employee, without specific authority. On the day it was made, he sought to cancel the contract. . .
LimitedSanders and Others v Ernest A Neale Limited NIRC 5-Jul-1974
The applicants appealed dismissal of their claims for redundancy payments.
Held: The Court considered the time of acceptance by an employee of an employer’s repudiatory actions. Sir John Donaldson P set out the principle which he regarded as . .
CitedThomas Marshall (Exports) Ltd v Guinle ChD 1979
The managing director defendant had resigned before the end of the contractual term. There was an express covenant in his contract against using or disclosing the company’s confidential information during or after his employment. It was submitted . .
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 . .
CitedCuckson v Stones 1-Nov-1859
. .
CitedDenmark Productions Ltd v Boscobel Productions Ltd CA 1969
Where the award of damages at law may be inadequate, the court may order an account to be taken to determine precisely what is owing by one party to the other.
Salmon LJ doubted whether an unaccepted repudiation could bring an end to a contract . .
CitedDecro-Wall International SA v Practitioners in Marketing Limited CA 1971
Once the court has concluded that a ‘reasonable notice’ requirement was to be implied into a contract, the question of what notice period was reasonable must be judged as at the time the notice was given.
Buckley LJ also set out the test for . .
CitedAilsa Craig Fishing Co Ltd v Malvern Fishing Co Ltd HL 26-Nov-1981
Even though a shipowner who had carried cargo on deck was not entitled to rely on the exceptions to liability in his contract, a limitation clause was different and should not be construed by reference to the specially exacting standards applicable . .
CitedPagnan SpA v Tradax Ocean Transportation SA 1986
When asked to interpret a contract with apparently conflicting provisions, the duty of the court is ‘to reconcile seemingly inconsistent provisions if that result can conscientiously and fairly be achieved’. . .
CitedMiles 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 . .
CitedMannai Investment Co Ltd v Eagle Star Assurance HL 21-May-1997
Minor Irregularity in Break Notice Not Fatal
Leases contained clauses allowing the tenant to break the lease by serving not less than six months notice to expire on the third anniversary of the commencement date of the term of the lease. The tenant gave notice to determine the leases on 12th . .

Cited by:
CitedWest London Mental Health NHS Trust v Chhabra SC 18-Dec-2013
The trust sought to begin disciplinary proceedings against the claimant, a consultant forensic psychologist alleging gross misconduct. She was said to have left confidential patient records on a train.
Held: Gross misconduct should be conduct . .
CitedVizcaya Partners Ltd v Picard and Another PC 3-Feb-2016
No Contractual Obligation to Try Case in New York
(Gibraltar) The appellant had invested in a fraudulent Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff. They were repaid sums before the fund collapsed, and the trustees now sought repayment by way of enforcement of an order obtained in New York.
Held: The . .
CitedMarks and Spencer Plc v BNP Paribas Securities Services Trust Company (Jersey) Ltd and Another SC 2-Dec-2015
The Court considered whether, on exercising a break clause in a lease, the tenant was entitled to recover rent paid in advance.
Held: The appeal failed. The Court of Appeal had imposed what was established law. The test for whether a clause . .
CitedMarks and Spencer Plc v BNP Paribas Securities Services Trust Company (Jersey) Ltd and Another SC 2-Dec-2015
The Court considered whether, on exercising a break clause in a lease, the tenant was entitled to recover rent paid in advance.
Held: The appeal failed. The Court of Appeal had imposed what was established law. The test for whether a clause . .
CitedNewcastle 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 . .
CitedJames-Bowen and Others v Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis SC 25-Jul-2018
The Court was asked whether the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (‘the Commissioner’) owes a duty to her officers, in the conduct of proceedings against her based on their alleged misconduct, to take reasonable care to protect them from . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Contract

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.467185