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Director loses appeal against unfair dismissal after personality clash

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Moore v Phoenix Product Development Ltd, Mr Moore was the inventor of a water-efficient toilet and the CEO of the company he founded for 16 years at which time he was replaced by Dylan Jones but remained an employee and director. He found it very hard to accept that he was no longer in charge of the company he considered to be his.

His attitude and conduct within the organisation caused a deterioration in his relationship with fellow directors, and an HR and organisational development consultant contracted by the firm found that Moore would “attempt to sabotage any CEO coming into the business”.

Following a series of incidents, the remaining members of the Board lost confidence in his ability to change his ways, and he was dismissed without being offered a right of appeal. He claimed that the dismissal was procedurally and substantively unfair. The tribunal rejected his claim, finding that he was dismissed for some other substantial reason (SOSR) in that there was an irreparable breakdown in relations and that the dismissal was not unfair. Mr Moore appealed on various grounds including that PPD’s failure to offer/carry out an appeal rendered his dismissal unfair. The appeal was dismissed. The tribunal noted that the “irreparable breakdown” in his relationship with the company meant that he was dismissed for SOSR. For this reason, the dismissal wasn’t unfair.

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