Heaven v Whitbread Group Plc - Resignation date cannot be backdated [2010] EAT

The "Effective Date of Termination" is a statutory construct. It depends on what has actually happened between the parties, and not on what they choose to agree that they will treat as having happened. One effect of this is that a resignation (which must be unequivocal to be effective) cannot be backdated.

For various reasons which are not reported, Mr Heaven met with Mr Hawes of Whitbread on 28th August 2009. Subsequent to that meeting, on 29th August 2009, he sent him a "Conditional Resignation Letter" letter, stating that he would resign forthwith BUT that this was "dependent on two factors" - namely receiving 1 month's salary and a "glowing reference". Mr Hawes wrote back on 30th August replying on the two conditions, but also explaining that he could not accept a conditional resignation and that Mr Heaven must make clear whether he was actually resigning or not.  Mr Heaven e-mailed back on 3 September confirming that he was resigning "with effect from 29th August" and on 4th September Mr Hawes accepted his resignation, again by e-mail.

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