In a welcome decision for employers, the EAT has considered the extent to which employment tribunals should investigate the employer's marking and scoring process in a redundancy procedure and held that detailed judicial scrutiny of the scores awarded in a redundancy process is inappropriate (Dabson v David Cover & Sons Ltd).

Mr Dabson argued that he had been dismissed unfairly for redundancy.  In particular, he alleged that a manager who had an improper motive had underscored him.  On the face of it, the marking process did appear to be flawed.  However the employment tribunal concluded that the decision to dismiss Mr Dabson was within the range of reasonable responses open to a reasonable employer and dismissed his claim.    On appeal, the EAT held that the employment tribunal had correctly directed itself and was entitled to find on the facts that the dismissal for redundancy was fair.  It reiterated the established principle that the decision to dismiss is a matter for the employer and referred to previous authority, which has found that it is inappropriate for an employment tribunal to scrutinise the marking in redundancy selections in the absence of an obvious mistake or absence of good faith.  

Impact on employers

  • It can be difficult for employers to know where to draw the line where disputes arise over redundancy scoring and this case will therefore provide comfort to employers.  Provided the overall process has been carried out fairly and in good faith a tribunal will not apply close scrutiny to marking and scores in a redundancy exercise.  The employer's decision is only likely to be scrutinised and overturned if there are exceptional circumstances such as bias or obvious mistake.