Can a reference be allowable even though it is “unfair”?

The Court of Appeal’s latest decision on references.

According to the Court of Appeal in the case of Jackson v Liverpool City Council the answer to the question ‘can a reference be allowable, even though its unfair’, is a resounding, “yes”.

The Claimant worked for the council in its youth offending team. He left to join another Council with good references. He then applied for a post with the new council in its youth offending service. One of his three references from his former employer (Liverpool) was qualified; suggesting there were record keeping issues. These issues, however, had not been investigated before he left: something that was confirmed in the reference itself. As a result of the reference, the Claimant failed to get the job and was unemployed for a year.

The judge at the original trial decided that the reference was true and accurate even though it referred to matters which were untested and unproved. The claim for damages for negligent mis-statement, brought by the Claimant therefore failed. The Claimant took the case to the Court of Appeal but, perhaps surprisingly, that court took the same view.

This decision adds considerable weight to the general advice we have always provided to employees; that it is wise when leaving any employment, to agree the wording of the reference that will be provided before departure. Most reputable employers will be happy to agree to this and (largely) it serves to eliminate the risk of future misunderstandings.

 

Lee Dawkins

Lee Dawkins

Over the past 30 years Lee has overseen the expansion of the firm’s litigation department. He developed our personal injury and clinical negligence teams, creating various niche areas that now enjoy a national profile. He pioneered contentious probate, setting up one of the UK's leading inheritance dispute teams and established Slee Blackwell as a force within claimant professional negligence. He now works as the firm's marketing partner.
Lee Dawkins

Lee Dawkins

Over the past 30 years Lee has overseen the expansion of the firm’s litigation department. He developed our personal injury and clinical negligence teams, creating various niche areas that now enjoy a national profile. He pioneered contentious probate, setting up one of the UK's leading inheritance dispute teams and established Slee Blackwell as a force within claimant professional negligence. He now works as the firm's marketing partner.

Share this post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Share this post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Call the Slee Blackwell helpline on 0333 888 0404