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Intention to start High Court Claim - advice needed


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Hello folks

 

Im considering starting High Court Action against my former employer for failing to act on a promise made.

 

I brought a County claim against my former employer last year and the claim was thrown out of court as it could not be heard in the County Court. The Judge said that as I had mentioned the rules of equity it could be heard in the High Court (Chancery Division)

 

I wont go into the nitty gritty on here but wondered if there were any Legal experts around to offer help and advice please?

 

Thanks

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Thanks well here goes and its a long one......

 

I had worked for my employer, a Local Authority for over 20 years. I uncovered Fraud in my workplace involving two senior managers and used the whistleblowing process to alert the powers that be of my allegations. Despite two whistleblowing reports being submitted - these were not acknowledged and nothing was done. After a while I found my position was untenable due to the behaviour of the two senior managers towards me. There was a Voluntary Redundancy package on offer at the time and as our section were going through a restructure I decided to apply as I just wanted out.

 

I was told that my application was refused. The Manager who I had previously made allegations about was responsible for making the decision and she had no good cause in turning me down. Out of 5 staff members in my section, 4 were allowed to go on VR and I was the only one who was refused.

 

I knew that I could not appeal this and I decided to quit my job and make a claim to the Employment Tribunal. I felt I had no option of continuing in my role.

Shortly after leaving, my Employers Corporate Fraud Section contacted me and asked me to provide further info to them with regards my allegations. They were aware I had quit my job as a result of what had happened and they were concerned. I was informed that the more info I supplied regarding what I had discovered would lead to a review of my Voluntary Redundancy refusal.

 

Over a period of 3 months I continued to provide evidence to the Fraud Section then I suddenly stopped receiving communications with them. Despite emails asking them of what was going on, I had no reply. By this time I had missed the 3 month deadline of the Employment Tribunal :mad2:

 

I forced pressure on the City Council to instigate an external Investigation into my allegations. During this time over 30+ people came forward with similar info. I was told by another Senior Officer that yet again, the more info I provided would lead to a review of the decision to award me Voluntary Redundancy.

 

The External Investigation was a farce and the decision made was that the allegations could not be backed up and no further action to be taken.

 

Several months later, I found out that the decision made by the Officer was flawed and the external investigation team agreed with what I been saying. One of the senior officers was forced to quit their job and the other was made to resign.

 

Despite me making requests to the Local Authority asking them what was happening with regards my Voluntary Redundancy, they refused to provide an answer.

 

I submitted a claim in the County Court last year. My Claim coudl not be heard as the basis of my claim did not contain any elements that could be heard in the County Court. The Circuit Judge did say that as i had mentioned rules of Equity, there was a possibility that my claim could be heard in the High Court Chancery Division, but this would mean a new claim made by me.

 

I contacted the Local Authority yet again, and this time I told them of the "promises" made to me by two Senior Council workers that my Voluntary Redundancy could be revised. They renayed on this and as a result I suffered a detriment as I missed the 3 month Deadline for the Employment Tribunal. I got a reply and they started to ask more questions like "who made the promise, when was it made etc".

 

The Senior Officer who had made this promise resigned shortly after all this blew and another Council Officer witnessed the promises made to me

 

I have heard nothing since and have told them I intend to take this to Court again. In the meantime, the Police have now opened a full investigation into what went on and involving my initial allegations as it concerns theft and corruption.

 

By assisting with the ongoing Investigation and supplying information to two Officers of the council I was clearly led to believe that my request for Voluntary

Redundancy would be reconsidered. As this was being dealt with by Senior Officers of the City Council, in whom I trusted, I had no reason to believe that this would not be done. In effect the implied promise made to me by Senior Officers has not been carried out which now involves the Legal principles of Promissory estoppel

 

So nearly two years on...I am left with the decision. Do I take High Court action?

 

What part of Law does this fall into?

 

Again any help or advice would be appreciated

Edited by eightieslad
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Just to clarify, am I correct to think that you want to sue the council because they didn't grant you voluntary redundancy?

 

I am sorry but you cannot use promissory estoppel to sue the council. Promissory estoppel can only be used as a defence to a claim, it cannot be used to found a claim. The legal phrase for this is that promissory estoppel is a 'shield not a sword'.

 

I can see that you would have had a claim for constructive dismissal and also a claim for being subject to a detriment due to making a protected disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Unfortunately, both these claims have 3 month time limits which you are long past.

 

If you wanted to sue the council for failure to live up to its promise, the only way I can see of doing this would be to try and claim that there was a contract. In other words, that the council had make a promise to you and I think you would have to prove that the promise was (1) sufficiently clear and certain, (2) made by someone with authority to make that promise, (3) done in exchange for something from you (such as a promise by you not to sue the council), (4) made with intent to create legal relations. This could be tough - and could also be barred if you already brought that claim in the county court.

 

I do not understand why the judge suggested that you initiate a claim in the High Court. The county courts do have full jurisdiction to hear claimed based on the equity branch of the law. Can you give us any more details about what you were told by the judge?

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Because the elements listed in my Court Claim should have been heard in ET and I was out of time, the Judge summed up that this could not be heard in the County Court and judgement was that the claim be dismissed. Whilst in Court I listed several principles of Equity which the Judge said could be heard in the High Court (Chancery Division) but that was a matter for another day.

 

I am aware that Estopple can only be used as a defence and not a shield but wanted to cite Evenden V Guildford City and Re Wyvern Developments which both supersede Combe V Combe.

The modern rule of law in equity is that courts use the objective test to determine if it was reasonable to rely on a promise. There also has to be consideration given which in Combe there was not. In my case the consideration was me supplying the information

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From what you've said I can't see how any promises were made to you.

 

A review of the decision could have gone either way and the original decision could have stood.

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the promise was made to me to review the decision taken regarding my voluntary redundancy by providng sufficient info to the local authority. this promise was made twice to me by two senior officers and witnessed by other officers

 

the review would have shown that the officer who made the decision was at fault. that officer was sacked shortly after all my proof was supplied

 

The Local Authority are denying everything and have tried to brush this under the carpet but they have told me that two people who ii made allegations about were sacked... now why would that be???

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Because the elements listed in my Court Claim should have been heard in ET and I was out of time, the Judge summed up that this could not be heard in the County Court and judgement was that the claim be dismissed. Whilst in Court I listed several principles of Equity which the Judge said could be heard in the High Court (Chancery Division) but that was a matter for another day.

 

I am aware that Estopple can only be used as a defence and not a shield but wanted to cite Evenden V Guildford City and Re Wyvern Developments which both supersede Combe V Combe.

The modern rule of law in equity is that courts use the objective test to determine if it was reasonable to rely on a promise. There also has to be consideration given which in Combe there was not. In my case the consideration was me supplying the information

The Evenden case was overruled in 1979 in Secretary of State for Employment v Globe Elastic Thread Co Ltd, and is no longer good law. Re Wyvern is good law but covers a very specific situation of liquidators who are held to especially high standards of conduct. In any event, both cases are about stopping an employer from denying something rather than creating a claim on its face.

 

Estoppel is about preventing the other side from arguing something in court which is inconsistent with a promise they have made. If you were assured that the employer would not seek to rely on the 3 month limitation you could perhaps say that they are estopped from relying on it, but it doesn't sound like that was the case.

 

Even if you did have a contract which provided that you would not bring a claim on the basis that the decision was to be reviewed (which I think would be very difficult to prove), it seems to me that the only thing you were promised was a 'review' which may well have ended up with the same result.

 

The High Court does not have jurisdiction to hear unfair dismissal or unlawful detriment for making a protected disclosure claims. I'm not really sure why the judge mentioned the High Court to you as the county court does have jurisdiction to consider equitable law; perhaps the judge misunderstood what you were arguing.

 

I wish I could come up with some clever type of claim you could bring but unfortunately I personally am struggling to see how you could pursue this further, assuming that you got paid your statutory redundancy pay. If you do decide to do anything which involves the High Court you should be aware that you will be ordered to pay the council's legal costs if you lose - unlike the small claims track in the county court.

 

The Local Authority are denying everything and have tried to brush this under the carpet but they have told me that two people who ii made allegations about were sacked... now why would that be???
I think you would have had a strong claim under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Unfortunately, you missed the 3 month time limit. I personally think that this time limit is unreasonably short and unfairly punishes people such as yourself who try to resolve things without going straight to court, but I don't write the law.

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Thanks for your reply. I resigned from my job so no redunancy pay, the whole point of this is that I missed the 3 month ET deadline as I was reliant on a promise by the Local Authority. The detriment I suffered is the reason for the claim. The council kept me hanging on then renayed on their promise.

All Officers involved in this sorry affair have either since been sacked or resigned. The Police Investigations are continuiung

 

I do understand that if the review was carried out the decision might still have been the same - but the officer responsible in making the decision to refuse my VR was shortly sacked after an external investigation into my alleagtions was made.

 

The Council refuse to state the reason why the officer was sacked and their decision was there was no truth in my allegations.

This is what Im refuting. If another officer had been faced with my decision Im 99% certain the decision would be approved.

The Officer who I made alleagtions about knew I wanted out and out of spite she refused my request for VR.

Edited by eightieslad
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But you weren't promised the voluntary redundancy,only that the decision would be looked at again.

 

Not sure the fact that the guy was sacked is relevant.

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