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AA exec chairman sacked for alleged “Clarkson moment”

Philip Richardson

It has been reported that the AA has sacked its executive chairman, Bob Mackenzie, for gross misconduct, with immediate effect. Philip Richardson, head of employment law at national law firm, Stephensons.

This follows what has been reported as a ‘Clarkson moment’ in a hotel bar. The AA has provided no further details as to the incident(s) or allegation(s) which led to its decision and – by contrast – his son has commented that his father tendered his resignation due to acute ill health.

Because of the contrasting accounts of what actually happened, it is difficult to say with any certainty the legal implications of this case. However, whether Mr. Mackenzie resigned or was dismissed is a key factor and will not only have an impact on his employment status but also on his shareholding in the business. It has been reported that if the gross misconduct allegation stands, he may be classed as a ‘bad leaver’, meaning that he could stand to forfeit up to 33 million special shares.

This case raises an interesting point; namely that it is vital for employees in a business, who are also shareholders, to take independent legal advice on any documents presented to them as soon as they join the business. Often parties enter into these relationships with rose tinted spectacles when the relationship is at its most amicable and so are not even contemplating a situation where there is a fall out.

It is imperative however to consider that possibility, so shareholder employees are fully cognizant of how their shares will be treated on exit.