A long-established law firm in Newcastle, Short Richardson and Forth, has been compelled to provide financial restitution to 13 former employees after a recent employment tribunal judgment.

The firm, which had been in operation for an impressive 44 years, ceased its operations on 30th September 2022 and entered voluntary liquidation on 12th January 2023.

Out of the 17 employees who brought forward claims against the firm at the employment tribunal, four cases were dismissed in their entirety. However, eight claims of wrongful dismissal were found to be well-founded, leading to the order for compensation.

The liquidator representing Short Richardson and Forth submitted a communication to the tribunal indicating that they had no intention of admitting or defending any of the claims made against the firm. Consequently, judgments were entered without the need for a formal hearing.

A lack of proper warning

In the written judgments, Employment Judge Arullendran made some crucial observations regarding the firm’s actions leading up to the dismissals. According to the judge, on 5th September 2022, the respondent firm informed its employees that it would cease providing legal services after 30th September 2022, and subsequently proposed the redundancy of 20 or more employees. The dismissals were staggered, with the first taking effect on 30th September 2022 and the final one on 30th November 2022.

However, the judge found fault with the firm’s approach, stating that there was a lack of proper warning or consultation with either a recognised trade union or the claimants themselves during the period between 5th September 2022 and 30th September 2022. Furthermore, the firm had not engaged in consultation with the claimants as required by section 188A of the 1992 Act, and no employee representatives had been elected or appointed for the purpose of such consultations.

What was the ruling?

In light of these findings, the employment tribunal ruled in favor of the claimants and ordered the law firm to make payments equivalent to three months’ remuneration for the maximum protected period, starting from 30th September 2022. The amount to be paid out to the 13 successful claimants varied, with compensations for wrongful dismissal claims ranging from £37.70 to £9,774.21. The total payout in relation to these wrongful dismissal claims amounted to over £20,000.

The verdict serves as a clear indication that adherence to proper procedures and consultations is crucial when dealing with employee redundancies. The closure of the law firm has had significant consequences for its former employees, and this judgment highlights the importance of adhering to employment laws and regulations to safeguard the rights of workers in such circumstances.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.