Thursday, 15 May 2003

Johnson v Unisys Damages


The Employment Appeal Tribunal has, this morning, handed down its decision in Dunnachie v Kingston upon Hull City Council (& conjoined appeals).

It has held that non-pecuniary losses are not recoverable in employment tribunals in unfair dismissal claims. Thus tribunals cannot award damages for personal injuries, aggravation and injury to feelings caused by the manner (or, indeed, fact) of dismissal, as has been the increasing trend since Lord Hoffman's speech in Johnson v Unisys.

Burton J.'s reasoning, which spans over 50 pages, can be summarised in three sentences (as he does in his conclusion), namely:

1. Prior to Johnson, there has been no recovery for non-economic losses in claims for unfair dismissal in employment tribunals;

2. Lord Hoffman's views in Johnson were obiter, therefore Johnson does not require a change in the law; and,

3. having considered the construction of the statute, and the underlying policy arguments, the compensation regime for unfair dismissal is limited to economic losses only and does not extend to damages for personal injuries or injury to feelings.

The transcript is not yet available on the internet. I will send a supplem entary bulletin with the link when it becomes available.

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