In Gibbs –v- Leeds United Football Club, the High Court had to decide whether an employee’s willingness to negotiate a termination package prevented him from bringing a claim for constructive dismissal.
Mr Gibbs was the Assistant Manager at Leeds United. Following the dismissal of the manager, Mr Gibbs was asked whether he was interested in becoming head coach but Mr Gibbs indicated it wasn’t for him. Although he expected to be dismissed, he was asked to continue in his role whilst discussions were held about a consensual departure. Mr Gibbs was not expected to work with the new incoming manager and he was excluded from any training of the first team which formed part of his normal duties. He had also been excluded from pre-season training. He discovered written information that he was not to have any contact with the first team and that he would work with the youth academy. He resigned in response to these breaches of his terms and conditions of employment.
Leeds United Football Club argued that there had been a breach of contract by Mr Gibbs when he initiated a discussion about consensual termination. However the High Court disagreed. They stated that the fact that Mr Gibbs had said that he was prepared to leave if suitable terms were agreed was irrelevant.
He had been available, ready and willing to fulfil his duties. It was the club’s email to him that amounted to a repudiatory breach in response to which he resigned.