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Dismissal by letter depends on when the letter is read


Lawson-West Solicitors - Expert Author

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08 November 2010

A recent judgment from the Supreme Court has found that dismissal by letter becomes effective only when the employee actually reads that letter. In Gisada Syf vs Barratt, Barratt dismissed Mrs Syf in a letter, delivered by recorded delivery and signed for by her son, on 30th November 2006. Although expecting the decision letter to arrive, Mrs Syf had to be away from home for a few days as her sister was having a baby. She did not open the letter and therefore learn about the decision until 4th December. Mrs Syf presented a claim for unfair dismissal on 2nd March. If the effective date of her termination was found to be 30th November, then her unfair dismissal claim was out of time. However, if the effective date was when she read the letter on 4th December, her claim was presented within the three month time limit.

The Supreme Court held that the effective date of termination was 4th December, the date on which she actually read the letter. It found that she should not be criticised for wanting the letter to remain unopened by anyone else, as its contents were private. As she neither knew of the decision until 4th December, had not failed to open it on purpose, or deliberately gone away to avoid reading it, then the effective date of termination would be the date she actually learned of the decision to dismiss her.

Most claims for unfair dismissal are subject to a three month time limit, so donít delay in seeking advice if this situation applies to you. For more information, please contact Vaishali Thakerar on 0116 212 1059.

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Lawson-West specialise in commercial, business and employment law. Our team of dedicated commercial solicitors can help with buying or selling a business, business law and disputes, landlord and tenant issues and commercial property. Our expert employment team can offer practical advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law including redundancy, compromise agreements and dismissal procedures. Visit for more information.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-02-08 17:32:33 in Legal Articles

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