Former oil trader fails in wrongful dismissal claim in the High Court

MoJA former oil trader has failed in his bid to claim wrongful dismissal in the High Court, rendering his attempt to reclaim shares worth up to £600,000 unsuccessful.

Mr Andrew Kearns worked for Glencore International plc as an oil trader from January 2009 to October 2010 until his dismissal on 12 October 2010. The day before he was dismissed Mr Kearns was on a business trip in Singapore and had a night out with clients. He apparently had a “heavy night”, failed to turn up for work the next day and failed to answer his telephone. Glencore was concerned about this as it stated that he had a number of meetings scheduled for that day but Mr Kearns argued that he did not have any meetings scheduled. The company subsequently summarily terminated Mr Kearns’ contract after he was found guilty of gross misconduct. Although Mr Kearns does not appear to have made a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal, he has recently made a claim for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract in the High Court. It is believed that Mr Kearns is attempting to recover certain contractual entitlements that he believes is owed to him, such as his notice pay and shares worth approximately £750,000.

Mr Kearns’ claim came before the High Court last week. Glencore’s barrister stated that the bank was entitled to view Mr Kearns’ conduct as gross misconduct and that he had therefore acted in repudiatory breach of his contract of employment – a breach which the firm had “accepted”. He therefore argued that Mr Kearns was not owed any further payments by Glencore. Mr Kearns’ barrister, on the other hand, argued that what Glencore had done was “wrong, unreasonable and untrue” and that Mr Kearns was owed various payments as a result of the company’s conduct.

The claim in the High Court continues.