Definitive Judgment - No claim for compensation for injury to feelings in unfair dismissal

United Kingdom

The House of Lords gave judgment in Dunnachie v. Kingston-upon-Hull City Council  on 15 July.  They unanimously ruled that damages for non-financial loss (e.g. injury to feelings) cannot be awarded in unfair dismissal cases.

The decision is definitive, unless Parliament should change the law at some time in the future.

Their main reasons were that:-

1)         the remarks of Lord Hoffman in Johnson v. Unisys (which gave rise to the whole issue) were not legally binding;

2)         the meaning of "loss" in section 123(1) of the Employment Rights Act could not be stretched to cover non-financial loss;

3)         non-financial loss could not anyway be compensated in re-instatement or re-engagement cases, so it would be anomalous if it could be compensated in compensation cases; and

4)        section 123 must be interpreted as a whole, not as separate parts.

If you have any questions please contact Simon Jeffreys on +44(0) 207 367 3421 or at or Anthony Fincham on +44(0) 207 367 2783 or at