Ruaraidh Fitzpatrick succeeded on what the Employment Appeal Tribunal recognised as a ‘novel question’ at appellate level. The EAT confirmed that a claim for a quantum meruit cannot be brought as a wages claim under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Ruaraidh acts for Mr Thomas, Abellio East Midlands Ltd v Thomas, in a highly technical appeal involving the mechanics of Part II of the 1996 Act and the law of unjust enrichment Michael Ford QC held that such a claim cannot succeed as:
- A payment for work done outside the scope of a contract of employment does not fall within the statutory concept of wages;
- It will often be very difficult to work out when such sums were ‘properly payable’;
- It will typically be difficult to identify the sum ‘properly payable’ as this amount is to be determined by the court, often after considering objective evidence as to the value of the service;
- The Tribunals are not well equipped to deal with such claims, for example lacking the special pleading rules common to claims for a quantum meruit in the civil courts.
While legislation such as that contained in Part II ERA 1996 will be given a broad interpretation by the Tribunals, claimants should be mindful of the limits to such interpretation and carefully consider whether the claim they bring is one which the Tribunal can hear.