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Smith & Wood's Employment Law

Smith & Wood's Employment Law (16th edn)

Ian Smith and Owen Warnock
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date: 15 June 2024

p. 4226. Termination of the employment contract at common lawlocked

p. 4226. Termination of the employment contract at common lawlocked

  • Ian Smith,
  • Owen Warnock
  •  and Gemma Mitchell


This chapter looks at termination of employment at common law, and at the breach of employment contract action known as ‘wrongful dismissal’. It first discusses ways in which the contract might untypically end by operation of law rather than the ‘dismissal’ on which many employee rights rest. The chapter then considers the right of either party to terminate most contracts by giving notice—a major feature of UK employment law—and the ability of the employer to dismiss summarily for gross misconduct. It concludes with a detailed analysis of the principal remedy for an employee at common law—the action for wrongful dismissal—which is completely separate and different from statutory unfair dismissal, despite an unfortunate tendency for the press to treat them as interchangeable.

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