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Williams v Compare Maxam

[1982] IRLR 83

Case summary last updated at 18/02/2020 20:01 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Williams v Compare Maxam

Ps were dismissed when a D decided to cut labour costs to keep the business viable. Team leaders were asked to decide who to retain in the interests of the business (no criteria- just personal preference) and the trade union wasn’t consulted. EAT held that P was unfairly dismissed because the redundancy was carried out in contravention of the objective (industrial) standards of fair treatment generally accepted by employers. If no tribunal, properly directing itself in law could come to the decision, then it can be appealed (NB appeals against tribunals can only be on the basis of error of law).

BW J: Objective industry standards can be applied by the employment tribunals, which include lay experts in their composition. The employer has to show that there was sufficient reason to sack the applicant employee in particular (not employees in general). A redundancy will be reasonable if P consulted with employees and unions so as to consider alternatives e.g. reorganisations. The employer must select objectively fair criteria and apply those, considering representations made by the union and possible alternatives. Selection must not be based on personal whim. 

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