A West Midlands firm has been ordered to pay its former solicitor more than £6,000 over the botched handling of her office relocation.

Fiona Tsang, a solicitor for 11 years, successfully claimed for two months’ paid notice against HRS Family Law Solicitors after she was dismissed for gross misconduct in  2020.

Employment Judge Gaskell, sitting at the Birmingham employment tribunal, found that Tsang was not properly consulted before the firm enforced its contractual right to require an employee to move to another office.

The judge said the firm’s managing partner Clive Rebbeck or someone with his authority should have met the claimant in person to discuss her personal requirements, and then if she continued to refuse to move then the firm could take the action it did. But without these steps, and if the firm wanted to dismiss her immediately, it was required to dismiss her with full contractual notice.

The tribunal heard Tsang started with the firm in March 2020 at its Dudley office, but six months later she was advised on a Friday afternoon she was to move to the Walsall office the following Monday. She made clear she was uncomfortable with the move, saying the school run would be problematic if she was in Walsall.

On the next Monday, despite an email telling her to report to Walsall, Tsang went to the Dudley office and continued with her existing workload. She then explained she felt she lacked the experience to effectively supervise the Walsall office as she was being asked.

Before the tribunal, Tsang accepted that the firm had a contractual right to move her to Walsall but said needed more time to consider the position and it was not serious misconduct for her simply to refuse to move immediately without further discussion or indeed a disciplinary meeting.

The firm said Tsang failed to accept a lawful instruction from the managing director and her conduct amounted to a fundamental breach of the employment contract.

The judge said: ‘The claimant’s actions clearly did not amount to a fundamental breach… Indeed, that morning she had attended the Dudley office and got on with her work.’


This article is now closed for comment.