Employers have a duty of care when providing a reference for a former employee. The reference must be true, accurate and fair.

Here, the claimant requested a reference from Liverpool City Council for a job with Sefton Council. Liverpool gave a reference suggesting that there were issues with the claimant’s work but making it clear that the allegations had not been investigated.

Initially, the court held that Liverpool had been negligent as it was unfair to disclose issues which had not been investigated. The Court of Appeal disagreed. It was made clear in the reference that there had been no investigation and, therefore, no inference could be made either way. The reference was true, accurate and fair.

When giving a reference that is likely to be contentious, employers must ensure that the reference is balanced and accurate in order to avoid a claim for negligence or misrepresentation.

Jackson v Liverpool City Council