It is a well-established principle that an employee can bring a claim against a former employer for negligently preparing a reference. The former employer owes its exemployee a duty of care to provide an accurate, fair reference.  

This case extends the principle as it relates to a statement made by a former employer to its exemployee’s new employer.

  • The claimant had been a well-respected employee in his earlier job and he had received a good reference when he left.
  • The claimant’s new job required him to work with his old employer.
  • The new HR Director of his former employer, who had never worked with the claimant, sent an email to the claimant’s new employer that was found to be ‘largely fallacious and untrue’ to the extent that it was ‘obvious that it would have an impact on (the claimant’s) employment situation’.
  • The claimant consequently lost his job.

The Court held that in these circumstances it was fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care on the exemployer.

McKie v Swindon College