Liability of Employers Essay

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In recent years one of the most significant discussions in legal matters has been the liability of employers for references. Before 1995, writing a reference was not a task that required much consideration since there was no judicial recognition of the duty of care employers owed to employees when providing references (Wallace-Bruce 1997). However, the law changed and employers now find themselves in ‘legal hot water’ when providing a reference because they face a high exposure to liability in tort (Woods 2011). This essay will critically evaluate in relation to the common law duty of care the liability of employers for references. Also, this essay argues that the liability of Universities regarding references given to potential employers in respect to students does not differ from the liability of employers for references to employees. The House of Lords laid down the grounds for the liability of employers for references in Spring v Guardian Assurance plc [1995] 2 AC 296 (HL), where it was held that “an employer owes a duty of care to an employee for whom he writes a reference […] .A breach of this duty can give rise to a claim in damages…”(Lee 2011) The principle developed in Spring was further refined in subsequent cases. In Bartholomew v London Borough of Hackney [1999] IRLR 246, it was held that employers are obliged to provide references that are in essence true, accurate and fair. Similarly, in Kidd v Axa Equity and Law Assurance Society plc [2000] IRLR 301 the High Court stated that as long as information is not selected in an unfair way with the intention to give rise to a wrong interpretation, an employer does not have to provide a full and comprehensive reference. Moreover, in the case of Cox v Sun Alliance Life Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 649 their lordships held that the giver of a reference should only include negative statements about the employee that have

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