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Does giving notice amount to an unambiguous act of resignation?

Not necessarily, held the EAT in East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy.

The claimant worked as an Administrative assistant in the trust's records department and had received a conditional offer of a role in the radiology department. She sent a letter saying "Please accept one month's notice from the above date".

The conditional offer was subsequently withdrawn and the Claimant then sought to retract what she described as her 'notice of resignation'. The employer refused, the claimant's employment ended and she brought an unfair dismissal claim.

The employment tribunal held the Claimant's notice to be ambiguous, not necessarily referable to resignation, a conclusion upheld by the EAT. As a consequence, objective analysis of how the reasonable recipient would have understood the words was required. The tribunal was entitled to conclude that the respondent had understood the words as merely intended to signify the move from the records department to radiology and that that was the objectively reasonable interpretation.

Whilst the Respondent sought to rely on the wording of the Claimant's subsequent retraction of her 'notice of resignation', the EAT cautioned against taking account of subsequent events unless genuinely explanatory of the earlier intention. That was not an inevitable conclusion in this case.

Thanks to Jason Braier of Field Court Chambers for preparing this case summary.