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:
- The Industrial Tribunals Extension of Jurisdiction (England and Wales) Order (SI 1994/1623), or
- The Enactment of Extra-Statutory Concessions Order 2011 (SI 2011/1037).
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.