Misinterpretation of contractual term results in fundamental breach by employer

David Reid
17th Aug 2012

In July the EAT has found that a fundamental breach of contract can occur even if this breach was a result of the employer making an honest misinterpretation of the relevant contractual term.

Employment contract

In this case, the employee was off sick with stress and depression. There was a dispute between the employer and employee as to the employee’s entitlement to full or half pay during sick leave. The employer formed the view that it was only obliged to pay 50% of the Claimant’s pay. The EAT held that whilst adopting a view of a contractual obligation is unlikely to be an actual and/or anticipatory fundamental breach of contract, to act on that belief without more is likely to constitute such a breach.


The full case can be found at here (Case name: Roberts v The Governing Body of Whitecross School UKEAT/0070/12/ZT)

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