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Procedurally unfair dismissals and reductions to awards

16 October 2015: Procedurally unfair dismissals and reductions to awards:

It’s often forgotten that even when a Claimant is unfairly dismissed,  compensatory awards can be reduced to reflect the chance that the claimant would have been dismissed anyway; even if errors in the process had not occurred. This is called a ‘Polkey reduction’ and can sometimes result in a 100% reduction to a compensatory award.


A recent example of this is the case of in Sec of State for Justice v Lown in which Mr Lown, a prison officer, was dismissed following an allegation that he had punched a prisoner in the back during a planned intervention.


The original Tribunal found the dismissal to be unfair, because it decided the dismissing officer was acting in bad faith and did not have a genuine belief in the Claimant’s misconduct. However, that issue had not been put to the dismissing officer in cross examination at the hearing, which the EAT said was incorrect.


The EAT considered that the Tribunal had failed to consider whether the Respondent’s conduct fell within the ‘band of reasonable responses’, and  should have considered a Polkey reduction if it made a finding of unfair dismissal.


For advice from an  employment solicitor on unfair dismissal and redundancy, please visit, email or call 0207 118 0950.


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