How Being Sued Can Save You Money

James Medhurst is an employment law expert and a professional cynic

Review of the week: 14 – 20 December 2015

Eva Carneiro1

Special No More: Jose Mourinho Leaves Chelsea

An Employment Tribunal claim falling through the letterbox is a disheartening moment for any business. Chelsea surely felt the same when former team doctor, Eva Carneiro (above left), started her proceedings. But when its lawyers reviewed the situation, their glum faces would have been transformed, as a gleam in the eye grew slowly into a smile.

This was what Homer Simpson described as a “crisitunity“. Far from damaging Chelsea’s season, Dr Carneiro’s lawsuit was something which could revive it, like a magic sponge.

For Chelsea was ailing. It was afflicted, from top to bottom, by a virus and there was an autoimmune failure. The players behaved like white blood cells but failed to distinguish the disease from the tissue around it, being as willing to harm the club as the manager.

There was only one possibility which remained – to cut out the source of the infection.

Net Profit

Sacking Mourinho would be expensive – his annual salary was £7.5 million. This would have worried Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich, who didn’t get as rich as he is today without counting the pennies. The patient would need a cheaper method of treatment.

And this is where those sneaky lawyers come in. Gross misconduct is the friend of the cost-conscious employer. If Mourinho had committed a dismissible offence, he could be sacked without a payoff. A common method is to search through an employee’s internet history, in the hope that he has been looking at pornography. Courts usually allow this.

This might not have worked for Mourinho, who probably got his kicks elsewhere, so Dr Carneiro’s allegations were timed with surgical precision. Now nobody had to trudge through thousands of webpages of stifling, yet strangely arousing, defensive tactics.

Mourinho departed and his payoff was almost certainly reduced. The club’s lawyers played a solid game, which is more than can be said for its players. As for Dr Carneiro, she apparently wants her job back – it would be the least that Abramovich could do.

2015 UEFA Super Cup 82

Club World Cup

The Club World Cup takes three years to win. A good place in a domestic league must be followed by a continental title, and this form must be maintained until December of the next season. It is a trophy that a two-season wonder like Mourinho is never likely to get.

This year, Barcelona played River Plate of Argentina in the final and Barcelona won 3-0. Lionel Messi scored first to equal the record of 5 goals in the history of the tournament.

Messi had achieved his feat over 5 matches but Luis Suarez (above) hoped to get there quicker, having scored a hat-trick in his first game, in the previous round. He scored two more goals at his second bite of the cherry, to take a huge chunk out of Messi’s record.

Water Polo and Handball

Japan’s men won the Asian Water Polo Championships to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 32 years. In the women’s event, it was China which qualified for Rio.

In women’s handball, the Netherlands were the surprise package, reaching the final of the world championship. Order was restored in the final, where it lost to European and Olympic champions, Norway. The Norwegians will once again be the favourites in Rio.

Next week: I start my review of 2015 and hand out awards to the stars of the the year


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