Stella English, a former winner of The Apprentice, has lost her claim of constructive unfair dismissal which was taken against multi-millionaire businessman Lord Sugar.

Lord Sugar tweeted: “The Tribunal case brought by Stella English against me and my company has been dismissed. A victory for the law against the claim culture.”

On Friday the Tribunal issued the following written statement: There was no dismissal of the claimant – the claimant resigned. Therefore the complaint of unfair constructive dismissal contrary to section 95 Employment Rights Act 1996 fails and is dismissed.”

A sweet victory for Sugar but has he really come out on top?

  • Sugar’s legal fees for defending this case are likely to have been very costly.
  • The time spent preparing for this case would have been significant, in addition to the time spent during the actual hearing.  Time that could perhaps have been better spent on running his business empire.
  • English made some strong personal and well publicised allegations against Sugar and his management team. English claimed she had been demeaned and patronised by Sugar’s lieutenants and left without a meaningful role before eventually being told by Sugar himself that he did not “give a s–t” about her predicament.  Like him or loath him, these comments have been publically aired by English and could have damaged Sugar’s reputation.
  • Sugar is now embarking on a campaign to put an end to the claim culture practice, which he has been subject to.

The irony is that this whole case might have been avoided if Sugar’s HR and management team had taken early intervention measures to address the issues.  Of course it may be that they did explore every avenue but, in the vast majority of cases, an informal meeting with all parties can quickly diffuse potentially volatile issues and prevent escalation.

If the relationship continues to deteriorate, the Company can demonstrate that it took reasonable steps to address the issues.  Taking this approach makes it far more difficult for employees to demand sizable settlements and in many cases, will settle out of court for a moderate sum.

So as Sugar tweets his victory against the claim culture, think of the many businesses who have adopted robust management practices or strategically placed settlements to avoid lengthy and costly tribunal cases and it may give you a different perspective to the meaning of victory.


By Bruce Ramshaw

Principal Consultant




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