Wright v North Ayrshire Council (Unfair Dismissal : Constructive Dismissal): EAT 27 Jun 2013

EAT UNFAIR DISMISSAL – Constructive dismissal
In order to determine a claim for constructive dismissal, a Tribunal had applied a test, referred to in Harvey, whether the contractual breach by the employer was ‘the effective cause’ of an employee’s resignation. It was now time to scotch any idea that this approach is correct if it implies ranking reasons which have all played a part in the resignation in a hierarchy so as to exclude all but the principal, main, predominant, cause from consideration. The definite article ‘the’ is capable of being misleading. The search is not for one cause which predominates over others, or which would on its own be sufficient, but to ask (as Elias J put it in Abbey Cars v Ford) whether the repudiatory breach ‘played a part in the dismissal’. This is required on first principles and by Court of Appeal authority (Meikle). The Tribunal here appeared to seek for ‘the’ cause rather than ‘a’ cause, and to regret that despite serious breaches by the employer which had caused upset to the employee it had to hold that on that test the effective cause of resignation was that the Claimant could not combine caring for her partner with the demands of her job. The error of law may have played a part in the decision. The case was remitted for further consideration as conforms with the EAT’s judgment.

Langstaff P J
[2013] UKEAT 0017 – 13 – 2706
England and Wales


Updated: 22 November 2021; Ref: scu.516737