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26 February 2013
Court of Appeal
Mummery, Lewison and Beatson LJJ
Employers can normally rely on a final warning to justify a dismissal for any further misconduct, without having to investigate whether the warning itself was fair. The reasons and circumstances of an earlier warning are generally only relevant to the fairness of a subsequent dismissal if it was issued in bad faith or was manifestly inappropriate.
A teacher, who was on a final written warning, was dismissed following further misconduct. She complained about the procedure leading to the final warning and argued that if the employer had considered the evidence properly, it would not have issued the warning.
A tribunal held that, in view of the final warning, the dismissal was fair.
The Court of Appeal held that a final warning may be relied on by employers when deciding whether or not to dismiss, without them having to revisit whether the warning should have been given. So long as it was not issued in bad faith or manifestly inappropriate, employers do not act unreasonably by refusing to revisit the correctness of earlier warnings.
This case confirms the EAT's decisions in Wincanton v Stone  IRLR 178, and Simmonds v Milford Club.
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