• GL
Choose your location?
  • Global Global
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Spain
  • UAE
  • UK

Failure to respond to a claim a costly mistake

28 June 2019
DWF | General Contracts

In Werner v University of Southampton, in the absence of a response by the Respondent,the Employment Tribunal found in the Claimant's favour in respect of claims including wrongful dismissal, unfair dismissal, harassment and discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, leading to an award of over £3.5 million being made.

Background

Mr Werner, a professor at the University of Southampton, claimed he had been subjected to harassment and discrimination due to being German and a Christian during his 14 years' of working for the University.

Mr Werner stated he had been subjected to a campaign of bullying and harassment after he raised concerns regarding the University's processes and suggested improvements. An example put forward by Mr Werner was the alleged repeated refusals to grant him sabbatical leave so that he could finish writing a book. Mr Werner argues that sabbatical leave had been granted to his colleagues in similar circumstances.

In addition, Mr Werner informed how he had been refused holiday pay as a result of discrimination which had impacted upon his promotion opportunities.

The Respondent did not provide a response to the claim issued by Mr Werner and did not attend the hearing at Southampton Employment Tribunal. Employment Judge Emerton (sitting alone) considered the Claimant's claim and in the absence of any response from the University of Southampton, awarded the Claimant £3.4 million inclusive of interest and an uplift of 25% for failure to follow the ACAS Code of Practice. EJ Emerton informed Mr Werner that the University's failure to respond to his claim had been to Mr Werner's advantage and recognised that had the University attended, it would have been likely that Mr Werner would have received a considerably lesser award as his claims would have been defended.

It is understood that the University of Southampton is conducting its own investigations as to the non-attendance to defend their position at Tribunal and will be appealing the decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

 

Comment

This case highlights the critical importance of ensuring all dates for compliance with Tribunal directions are noted and adhered to. A clear internal process on how to deal with claims once notified should be adopted and followed to ensure adequate time is available to prepare and file a response to such claim.

Further Reading

We use cookies to give you the best user experience on our website. Please let us know if you accept our use of cookies.

Manage cookies

Your Privacy

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. We mainly use this information to ensure the site works as you expect it to, and to learn how we can improve the experience in the future. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change permissions. However, blocking some types of cookies may prevent certain site functionality from working as expected

Functional cookies

(Required)

These cookies let you use the website and are required for the website to function as expected.

These cookies are required

Tracking cookies

Anonymous cookies that help us understand the performance of our website and how we can improve the website experience for our users. Some of these may be set by third parties we trust, such as Google Analytics.

They may also be used to personalise your experience on our website by remembering your preferences and settings.

Marketing cookies

These cookies are used to improve and personalise your experience with our brands. We may use these cookies to show adverts for our products, or measure the performance of our adverts.