His Honour Judge Auerbach has reiterated the importance of properly pleading the case in his decision in Upton-Hansen Architects (“UHA”) v Gyftaki.
The Claimant, had resigned after she was suspended by the Respondent, UHA, for going on leave without being granted permission, albeit due to confusion on the part of the Respondent. Stating that her resignation had been a direct result of being unfairly suspended (a suspension she believed amounted to a breach of trust and confidence), the Claimant alleged constructive dismissal and that she had no other choice.
In the Respondent’s Grounds of Resistance, it denied the allegations but only as far as stating: “Save as expressly admitted, all the Claimant’s claims are denied in their entirety”. The Tribunal, and then subsequently the EAT, found that this blanket denial did not sufficiently satisfy the constructive dismissal allegation. Whilst they clearly disputed whether there had been a fundamental breach, the Respondent had not offered a potentially fair reason to combat any use of Tribunal discretion in finding that there was infact a dismissal.
“In my view, in this case, the absence of any pleading that there was a fair reason for any dismissal, if so found, was a material omission. This was something that did need to be specifically pleaded by the Respondent if it was going to rely on such a case in the alternative,” stated Judge Auerbach.
The case serves as a blunt reminder for both parties to construct pleadings correctly, covering all allegations in their entirety as opposed to individual elements.