On appeal from : [2017] EWCA Civ 1632

The appeal concerned the dismissal of Ms Jhuti from her employment by Royal Mail Group Ltd. The key question of law that it raised was whether in a claim for unfair dismissal under Part X of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the reason for the dismissal can be other than that given to the employee by the employer’s appointed decision-maker.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal. It set aside the part of the Court of Appeal’s order allowing the company’s appeal against the EAT’s order and reinstated the latter order.

The Court held that the question is whether the tribunal correctly identified ‘the reason (or, if more than one, the principal reason) for the dismissal’ under section 103A, which relates specifically to whistleblowing. In searching for the reason for a dismissal, courts need generally look only at the reason given by the decision-maker. But where the real reason is hidden from the decision-maker behind an invented reason, the court must penetrate through the invention. So the Court held that the answer to the appeal’s key question is, ‘yes, if a person in the hierarchy of responsibility above the employee determines that she should be dismissed for one reason but hides it behind an invented reason which the decision-maker adopts, the reason for the dismissal is the hidden reason rather than the invented reason.’

For judgment, please download:  [2019] UKSC 55

For Court’s Press Summary, please download: [2019] UKSC 55

For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (12 June morning session) (12 June afternoon session) (13 June morning session)