No specific legislation is devoted to wrongful dismissal. It is a branch of the law of contract derived from what is known as the ‘common law.’ Guidance on wrongful dismissal is based on contractual concepts, and generally speaking changes stem from case law.

Some legislation does have an impact on wrongful dismissal claims. For example, the Employment Rights Act 1996 affects the length of an appropriate notice period and may therefore affect damages for wrongful dismissal.

Similarly, legislation may govern jurisdictional aspects of wrongful dismissal claims, such as where claims can be brought or perhaps taxation issues – see, for example:

However, most employment legislation since the 1960s and 1970s provides statutory employment rights (for example, unfair dismissal). Wrongful dismissal is an older contractual concept and should not be confused with unfair dismissal, which is a statutory right emanating from legislation in the 1970s.

What is wrongful dismissal?

Are wrongful and unfair dismissal claims based on the same concept?

What are the differences between wrongful and unfair dismissal claims?

When can an employer dismiss an employee with no notice and avoid a wrongful dismissal claim?

Where are wrongful dismissal claims heard and what are the relevant time limits?

How are damages calculated?

How substantial are damages awards and are bonuses included?

How are damages calculated to compensate an employee if the employer tries to go back on an offer of a new contract of employment?

Are damages affected if the employee has another job to go to?

Future developments

Explore our related content


Dismissal procedures

Introductory guidance on dismissal focusing on unfair dismissal, including advice on how to follow a fair dismissal procedure

Read more