Employment Cases Update

Evergreen Timber Frames Ltd v Harrington UKEAT/0072/20/AT

Date published: 24/03/2021

Appeal against the ET’s decision awarding the Claimant damages for breach of contract. Appeal allowed.

The Claimant, who had worked for the Respondent for just over two years, was dismissed by reason of redundancy. He brought a breach of contract claim before the ET, disputing what the Respondent had promised him by way of severance terms in relation to his company car, his computer and bonus pay. The ET found that the Respondent had previously agreed to "gift" the car to him, and it awarded the Claimant damages to the value of the car. The Respondent appealed on grounds including that the ET was wrong to decide that the car was not a gift, but to decide instead that there was a contract for its transfer; in terms of contract law, the Respondent contended that either there was no offer or, if an offer was made, there was no acceptance of it.

The EAT found that it was open to the ET, having regard to the circumstances, to conclude that the Respondent's proposed gift of the car to the Claimant was not a gratuitous promise to him, but simply one of its proposals for the termination of his employment; however, it held that the ET erred in law in concluding that the parties entered into a contractually binding agreement in relation to the car, since it was not open to the Claimant to sever and accept only the part of the Respondent's offer relating to the car. Accordingly, the case would be remitted to a fresh ET to consider whether, as the Claimant asserted, the Respondent had previously agreed to transfer the car to him.

Read the full text of the judgment on BAILII or download the file by clicking the link below.