08 Mar 2019

Hare Wines Ltd v Kaur and another [2019] EWCA Civ 216 

Facts

Mrs Kaur worked as a cashier in a wine wholesale business which, over the course of her employment, was run by several different corporate entities. In 2014 the business transferred to another entity, Hare Wines Ltd, under TUPE. Mrs Kaur's employment was terminated on the day of the transfer and she claimed automatically unfair dismissal. Hare Wines asserted that Mrs Kaur had objected to the transfer because of a difficult working relationship with a colleague who was due to become a director of Hare Wines.

Decision

The employment tribunal (ET) found that Mrs Kaur had not objected to the transfer. The reason for her dismissal was that Hare Wines did not want her because she did not get on with the colleague. The Court of Appeal highlighted two relevant factors: dismissal had been on the day of the transfer, which was not conclusive but was strong evidence in Mrs Kaur's favour; and the poor relationship had endured for some time without the transferor seeking to terminate her employment. The sole or principal reason for the dismissal was the transfer so the dismissal was automatically unfair.

Comment

This decision does not change the law but illustrates how a transferee can fall foul of the automatic unfair dismissal rules, particularly if they dismiss on the day of the transfer. It would have been better to wait and to tackle any problems that arose after the transfer through disciplinary proceedings.