Unfair Dismissal: The Post Office (Consignia plc) -v- Burkett

    5 Jun 2003

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    The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in The Post Office (Consignia plc) -v- Burkett.

    It is authority for the proposition that tribunals, when deciding whether an employer had reasonable grounds for its belief in misconduct, must set out and analyse the facts as found by the employer at the time of the dismissal (assuming the employer undertook a reasonable investigation).

    It is an error of law to set out facts as found by the tribunal, unless a clear distinction is drawn between what the tribunal decides occurred, and what the tribunal decides the employer thought occurred.

    Mr Burkett was dismissed for deliberately overfilling a Post Office van with oil, causing an explosion. The tribunal found that there was no evidence to support the fact that he had overfilled it deliberately and held the dismissal to be unfair. The Court of Appeal (after the Employment Appeals Tribunal dismissed the original appeal) allowed the appeal on the grounds that the Tribunal had substituted its view, whereas it should have looked at the facts that the Post Office had found after the Post Office's original disciplinary investigation, and decided whether those grounds for belief in misconduct were reasonable.

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