‘Habitually drunk’ trader loses job bid12th December, 2013 by Andy Young
A UK oil trader has lost his damages action for wrongful dismissal after he was sacked following a heavy night out in Singapore.
Andrew Kearns, 38, was employed by Glencore UK Ltd from January 2009 until October 2010, when he was dismissed after missing a series of meetings on the business trip.
In the case, which was heard at the High Court in London, Glencore said Kearns had failed to attend important meetings in the morning, at lunchtime and in the afternoon of 11 October and that these were the latest in a series of alcohol-related incidents.
Kearns agreed that he was out until 4.30am drinking with colleagues, but said it was not to greater excess than anyone else and the business meetings later that day did not require his compulsory attendance.
Glencore’s counsel, Jonathan Cohen, had told the court: “Mr Kearns was dishonest in his evidence. He sought to deny the inevitable. Mr Kearns was habitually drunk and that was the reason he so egregiously failed to perform the duties required of him.
“It was in Mr Kearns’s power to remedy his behaviour. When he went on that conference, he could have chosen not to go out until the early hours and get drunk and to turn up to the meetings he was required to, but he chose not to do that.”
Judge Richard Seymour QC dismissed Kearns’ appeal saying: “This claim was ludicrous – it should never have been advanced. There was no conceivable justification for any claim being made at any point.”
In his ruling, the judge called Kearns “an unsatisfactory witness”, adding that he was inclined to contest what, on the evidence, could not seriously be contested and to minimise the extent of his alcohol consumption and its consequences. Kearns now faces having to pay at least £150,000 in court costs.