In another case involving administrators, an employment tribunal somewhat controversially has held that the individual administrators could be liable as principals in an agency relationship with employees of a company in administration.

In Spencer v Lehman Brothers Ltd (in administration), Ms Spencer claimed sex discrimination when she was dismissed for redundancy whilst on holiday just prior to commencing maternity leave at the point when the company went into administration. On the facts, a tribunal found that the Head of Corporate Security who (at the direction of the administrators) had dismissed her was not guilty of sex discrimination since all other staff made redundant had been treated in the same way and no employee had had the opportunity to be consulted.  

The tribunal, however, went on to consider whether the administrators could potentially be liable, had an act of sex discrimination been proven, under an agency relationship with the employees. It held that the fact that the administrators were the agent of the company under the Insolvency Act 1986 did not mean that they could not also act as principals with regard to the employees. Here, an agency relationship arose when the administrators asked the Head of Corporate Security to select employees for redundancy.  

This is a controversial decision but is only at tribunal level so will not be binding on other tribunals.