Chelsea employ clever legal tactics in Eva Carneiro constructive dismissal case

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By Katie King on

Club’s failure to file defence is a shrewd move


Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro looks set for victory in her employment law claims against the Premier league football club, after they failed to file any defence.

But while it may seem like a massive oversight by the club, the failure has been described as “a wise tactical move” by PJ Kirby, a leading employment law QC at Hardwicke.

This year, the doctor has had a very public row with former manager Jose Mourinho for running onto the pitch to treat injured player Eden Hazard. After the game, Mourinho — who was sacked yesterday — described the medical team as “impulsive and naïve”.

The following month, Carneiro left the club and consulted London law firm Mishcon de Reya about making a claim against her former employer. An initial hearing at a Croydon tribunal was scheduled for the new year, where Carneiro’s lawyers were expected to request her reinstatement, as well as compensation for sex discrimination and personal injury.

Failing to fight these claims, Chelsea filed no defence with the London South Employment Tribunal. The deadline was yesterday, and the club did not ask for an extension. This has paved the way for the 42 year-old doctor’s success.

And why would Chelsea do this?

Legal Cheek spoke to Hardwicke barrister and avid Blues fan PJ Kirby QC, who believes that the failure to offer up a defence is far from a mistake. With no defence, the case will go straight to a remedies hearing as opposed to a contested hearing, avoiding the disclosure of documents and bad press attached to full-blown court proceedings.

This is not a common technique used in employment law proceedings, Kirby explains, but given Chelsea’s place firmly under the media spotlight, it’s a “wise move from a tactical point of view”.

With no defence offered up by the club, Carneiro will inevitably succeed in her claim.

The next stage is to decide what remedy she should be awarded.

There are a number of options open to the Gibraltar-born medic, who could be reinstated back to her original position — which may be a good idea now that Mourinho has been given the boot.

Alternatively, she could be re-engaged at the club in another role, which Kirby thinks is less likely. Or she could be looking at compensation, which, for a claim in constructive dismissal, is capped at just under £80,000 — less than John Terry earns in a week.