For some time, it has been established law that an employee may make a claim for damages following a negligent reference prepared by a former employer. This principle has now been extended beyond references. The High Court in McKie v Swindon College (2011), has held that an employer may be liable in damages to ex-employees for any negligent statement made to subsequent employers.
Mr McKie had taken up a new post at the University of Bath. Shortly after his appointment, the director of HR of his former employer, Swindon College, emailed the university with serious allegations about Mr McKie. As a result of this email, Mr McKie was summarily dismissed from his new post.
The High Court was satisfied that the contents of this email were untrue. Although this was not a reference, the Court held that Swindon College still owed a duty of care towards Mr McKie, which it breached when it supplied this statement, ultimately costing Mr McKie his job.