Breach of Contract

In every employment contract there is an implied term of “mutual trust and confidence” and a bullying claim can be brought as a breach of that term of the contract. In Berber v. Dunnes Stores [2009] 20 ELR 61 the plaintiff brought his claim inter alia  on this basis. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court on appeal found that this sort of claim can be based on either contract or tort and further that it is not necessary to distinguish between the two causes of action.

Whilst the decision in Ruffley v. Board of Management St Annes School  [2014] IEHC 235  (dealt with more fully in the section on disciplinary & grievance procedures) was not expressly stated to be based on a breach of mutual trust and confidence, the decision itself grounds liability in the manner in which a disciplinary process was wrongly conducted and in breach of natural justice. The Court found that the employer’s failure to allow any “meaningful consideration of the merits of the plaintiffs case” within a disciplinary procedure constituted “persistent . unfair and inappropriate treatment” of the plaintiff and the injuries she sustained as a result entitled her to damages.


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