A case handed down this week has been a useful reminder as to the value of getting proper legal advice about dismissals. Not because the advice will be of a high quality (although it should) but because if the advice is overheard or discovered on a desk, it cannot be presented to a tribunal if it is from a solicitor.
In this case, which concerned discrimination and unfair dismissal, the advice was overheard in the pub with the solicitor outlining thoughts on the dismissal before it occurred. The employee sought to present what was heard to a tribunal as proof that the dismissal was discriminatory.
This case went all the way to the Court of Appeal, who ruled that the advice given, was the sort of advice given by employment solicitors every day. The fact that it was given in a pub did not remove the privileged nature of the advice. Therefore, the overheard conversation could not be presented to the court.
The lesson for employers is that legal advice is often more expensive, but there is a quality and protection in legal advice which is not there in conversations with non-lawyers. We will ignore the fact that a solicitor was discussing this in the pub!
The case can be read here: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/1710.html