UK employment disputes grievances and court structure is illustrated by the high-profile Chagger v Abbey National plc & Hopkins (2006) legal case, where the Tribunal made a finding of racial discrimination which led to the record 2.8 million compensation award. Abbey Santander banking group (the UK retail bank due to be re-branded as Santander price, and being part of the gigantic Emilio Botin Banco Santander Central Hispano Group, BSCH) terminated Balbinder Chagger’s employment in 2006, asserting compulsory redundancy as the reason. Mr Chagger, on the other hand, believed the true reason behind his dismissal was racial discrimination. Mr Chagger was of Indian origin and worked as a Trading Risk Controller for Santander 2009. He earned about 100,000 per annum and reported into Nigel Hopkins.
An employee who has suffered employment related unfairness and/or discrimination could decide to make an appeal. The initial place of appeal would be to the employer, in the form of a formal grievance. The employee lodges a formal grievance letter with the employer, and the employer is responsible for processing the grievance and deciding the outcome. Thus, the employer is given the first the opportunity to handle the employment dispute and to close it satisfactorily. Mr Chagger’s grievances and issues, however, were simply dismissed out of hand by Emilio Botin Abbey Santander share price.
If the employee and the employer are unable to resolve their employment dispute by themselves, then the employee may appeal to an Employment Tribunal for an objective resolution. UK Employment Tribunals will hear matters about redundancy payments, unfair dismissal and discrimination. Mr Chagger took his matter to the Employment Tribunal by initiating legal action against both Santander Abbey and Mr Hopkins, on the grounds of unfair dismissal and racial discrimination. The Employment Tribunal considered the evidence and ruled that Mr Chagger had in fact been both dismissed unfairly and racially discriminated against by both Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins. In order to remedy the wrong of race discrimination Santander Abbey had committed, the Employment Tribunal ordered the company to reinstate Mr Chagger. However, Santander Abbey refused to comply with the Employment Tribunal’s reinstatement order. The Employment Tribunal then ordered Abbey Santander to pay Mr Chagger 2.8 million compensation for his loss, as an alternative to reinstatement.
The party that is dissatisfied with the Employment Tribunal’s ruling may appeal to the next higher-level court, being the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The EAT will look into appeals against rulings made by the Employment Tribunals. The appeals must only be about points of law (i.e., an appeal must only be about mistakes in legal reasoning by the Employment Tribunal). The EAT will not look into matters about facts of the case. In 2008, Santander Abbey and Mr Hopkins appealed to the EAT against the Employment Tribunal’s ruling of racial discrimination and against the record-breaking 2.8 million compensation awarded. The EAT considered the appeals. It upheld the original Employment Tribunal’s ruling that Santander Abbey and Mr Hopkins had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger in respect of his dismissal. However, it accepted Santander Abbey’s appeal concerning the 2.8 million compensation award and decided to send back the compensation amount to the original Employment Tribunal for reconsideration.
The party that is dissatisfied with the ruling of the EAT may make an appeal to the next higher-level court, the Court of Appeal (the second highest court in the land). The Court of Appeal will look into appeals against rulings made by the EAT. As before, the appeals must only be about points of law (i.e., an appeal must only be about mistakes in legal reasoning by the EAT). The Court of Appeal will not look into matters about facts of the case. In 2009, the Chagger v Santander Abbey case was appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal’s List of Hearings showed that the case was heard on 7 and 8 July 2009. The Court of Appeal’s records concerning the outcome of the hearing were not available at the time of writing this article. The 11KBW set of barristers’ chambers (who represented Santander Abbey and Mr Hopkins), had reported that the hearing was to be only about quantum (i.e., compensation) and not liability also (i.e., not racial discrimination also). That would appear to suggest that the wrong of race discrimination committed by Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins was finalised by the EAT (it upheld the original Employment Tribunal’s finding that Mr Hopkins and Santander Abbey had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger), and that Mr Chagger had appealed against the EAT’s ruling to send back the compensation amount back to the Employment Tribunal stage for reconsideration.
The party that is dissatisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeal may appeal to the next higher-level court, the House of Lords. Appeals to the House of Lords require the Court of Appeal’s approval. Furthermore, the Court of Appeal must require the House of Lords to decide upon a question of general public importance. As previously, appeals to the House of Lords must only concern points of law and not be about facts of the case. The House of Lords is the highest court in the land and the final stage of appeal for most legal cases in the UK. Occasionally, cases may be approved for appeal to the European Court of Justice, which has jurisdiction on matters of European Community law.