The Dream Lives On

Get Out of Jail Free Card

Play your cards right to succeed

A little while ago I reported the sad case of Monk v Cann Hall Primary School and how Mrs Monk’s hopes of securing compensation had been cruelly dashed. The good news is that hope has been rekindled on appeal.

After initially admitting liability, the School’s advisors cottoned on to the fact her claim for psychiatric injury related to her dismissal and, as no such claim may be made, they withdrew the admission and got her claim struck out into the bargain.

Last week, Mrs Monk persuaded the Court of Appeal ([2013 ] EWCA Civ 826) to allow an amendment to her claim which may enable her to keep the claim alive. The critical issue relates to the date of dismissal and whether her illness was caused by the dismissal itself or beforehand.

The chronology is important here. Mrs Monk was given notice of dismissal on 6 June 2008. The notice was for redundancy and confirmed her employment would come to an end on 31 August 2008.

For unexplained reasons, on 9 July, the Governors decided that rather than allow her to work until the end of term, 18 July, she should be made to leave immediately. The following day, 10 July, she was escorted from the premises.

Her amendment argues that her illness was caused by the way in which she was made to leave the school; under escort and in full view of parents and this is not an integral part of her dismissal. The dismissal comprised the initial notice and did not come into effect until 31 August.

If that argument is accepted then, assuming the medical evidence supports her on causation, she may still be able to claim. This is because, as noted in the original post, claims can be made for injury suffered before dismissal.

On the other hand, if the exclusion is found to be part and parcel of the dismissal or, as the School also seems to be arguing, it was a summary dismissal within her notice period, then it will fall within the exclusion area outlined in Johnson v Unisys [2001] UKHL 13 and the injury claim will be barred.

The tenor of the Court of Appeal judgment leans towards agreeing with Mrs Monk’s position and granting permission to amend when no such application had been before the judge at first instance is a surprisingly generous outcome.

On the face of it, Mrs Monk has been able to play a Get Out of Jail Free Card and so, happily, will probably secure a much more favourable outcome than seemed likely in October.

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Filed under Cases, Dismissal, Occupational Stress

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