High standard required to justify summary dismissal
In a recent case in the Hong Kong High Court, Grant David
Vincent Williams v Jefferies Hong Kong Limited - HCA 320/2011,
the Plaintiff, Grant Williams, was successful in his claim for
wrongful termination by way of summary dismissal and breach of the
implied term of trust and confidence against the Defendant,
Jefferies Hong Kong Limited. He was awarded over HK$15.8 million in
damages plus (unusually) costs to be paid to him on an indemnity
basis. This case is an important reminder that the standard
required to justify a summary dismissal in Hong Kong is very high
and that before making a decision to summarily dismiss an employee,
an employer should carry out a thorough information gathering
exercise to ascertain what the employee has allegedly done to
justify the summary dismissal. It is also worth noting the
court's criticism of the Defendant's conduct in making the
award of indemnity costs which included: a failure to adduce
evidence from the decision makers (the Defendant's senior
management in the US); withholding of key email communications and
other records; and a 'wasteful and unconstructive' approach
to settlement. Employers should take a careful and cautious
approach to any litigation and seek legal advice where
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