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The elective and automatic theories of termination in the common law of the contract of employment : conundrum resolved?

Cabrelli, David and Zahn, Rebecca (2013) The elective and automatic theories of termination in the common law of the contract of employment : conundrum resolved? Modern Law Review, 76 (6). pp. 1106-1119. ISSN 0026-7961

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Abstract

If a party to an employment contract commits a repudiatory dismissal or resignation, it has long been unclear whether the other party has the option either to terminate or affirm the contract (the elective theory) or whether the former's breach operates to bring the contract of employment to an end (the automatic theory). The recent decision of the Supreme Court in Société Générale (London Branch) v Geys has finally resolved this question. By a majority, the Supreme Court held that the elective theory also applies in the context of a wrongful repudiation of the employment contract by express dismissal or resignation. This note examines the significance of Geys in the context of the common law of the contract of employment and evaluates whether a number of related issues surrounding the breach and termination of the employment contract have been resolved.