The Full Bench of the Commission has set aside a ruling by a member dismissing an application that was originally rejected on the basis that it had “no reasonable prospect of success”.
Prior to the unfair dismissal matter being heard by the Commission, the Applicant’s solicitor had requested imminent hearing dates be vacated, with leave to “restore the matter in the unlikely event we are unable to agree upon the deed” as settlement had been reached “in principle”. The Applicant then terminated his relationship with his legal representative and requested that his unfair dismissal matter be re-listed for hearing. The Commission, however, originally upheld the Respondent’s bid to have the unfair dismissal application dismissed, on the basis that the Applicant’s legal representative had reached in-principle settlement, and therefore the Applicant was bound by the terms set out in a series or prior emails.
On appeal, the bench said for there to have been a legally-binding agreement between the parties it had to find that an offer and an acceptance between them "precisely correspond” – and unequivocal offer and acceptance. In making an offer, the language used must convey a clear message to a “reasonable person” the parameters of the offer, “leaving nothing to be further negotiated”.
The bench concluded that “communications between the parties’ solicitors did not express, objectively, an intention to make a concluded bargain, nor was there an acceptance which precisely corresponded to an offer."
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