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Compensatory Award

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 Thanks to Joanna Cowie of SA Law for preparing this case summary

Could post termination conduct affect the assessment of a compensatory award for unfair dismissal? Yes, according to the EAT in Cumbria County Council v Bates.

The Claimant, a teacher, was found to have been unfairly dismissed. At the remedies hearing, the tribunal was made aware that the Claimant was facing criminal proceedings for assaulting a former pupil. The Respondent requested an adjournment until the outcome of those proceedings, on the grounds that they may affect the Claimant's future employment prospects and were therefore relevant in assessing future loss of earnings and pension loss. Rejecting the application and referring to the decision in Soros v Davidson, the tribunal refused to take into account post-dismissal conduct, citing it as irrelevant when assessing the compensatory award. The Council and School's governing body appealed.

Allowing the appeal, and remitting the case to a new tribunal for consideration, the EAT held that the tribunal had erred in its approach. Applying the principles in Software 2000 Ltd v Andrews, the EAT decided that the Claimant's post-termination conviction for assault and subsequent 6 week prison sentence may have affected his future employment prospects and, consequently, could have substantially reduced any compensatory award.