Tuesday 6 March 2012

Redundancy: Pool of One

[Thanks to Nicholas Hill of Outer Temple Chambers for preparing this case summary]

When should an employment tribunal interfere with the pool for selection chosen by the Employer?

Rarely, says the EAT (HHJ McMullen QC) in
Halpin v Sandpiper Books.

Sandpiper Brooks employed Mr Halpin in its London office as an Administrator/Analyst. Mr Halpin moved to work in a sales role in China. In due course the Company decided to outsource the sales work and Mr Halpin was put at risk of redundancy. There was extensive consultation and he was offered (but refused) alternative employment back in the UK.

Mr Halpin was dismissed by reason of redundancy and brought a claim for unfair dismissal. The claim was dismissed. The tribunal concluded that Mr Halpin had been fairly selected for redundancy "in so far as he was in a pool of one given his unique position dealing solely with sales and based in China".

The EAT upheld the tribunal's approach. The decision by the Respondent to limit the pool to a pool of one was open to it; such a decision cannot be easily overturned. "Selection only operates, when fairness is concerned, where there is a number of similarly qualified possible targets for redundancy" (paragraph 16) there was no other "similarly qualified possible targets". The decision as to the pool is one for management (Fulcrum Pharma v Bonassera [2010] UKEAT/0198/10/DM). In the circumstances the decision was one that was reasonably open to the Employer.

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