Employment Tribunals: Claims of unlawful deductions from wages

Ms Agarwal is a consultant urological surgeon employed by Cardiff University.  The University withheld part of her salary, saying that she was not contractually entitled to it.  The employment tribunal held that it did not have jurisdiction to determine the underlying contractual dispute. The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the tribunal, and Ms Agarwal appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal upheld Ms Agarwal’s appeal. Referring to existing case law, the judge held that, in order to decide whether there was a deduction of wages, the tribunal had to decide whether the salary claimed was properly payable pursuant to a legal obligation.  That necessarily meant that it would need to resolve any dispute as to the meaning of the contract relied on.