In the latest in a long line of decisions in respect of the question "what counts as a grievance?", the EAT has ruled that a solicitor's letter can count as a written note of grievance. This is important as, since October 2004, individuals are required to submit a written grievance to their employers as a pre-condition to submitting most claims to an Employment Tribunal.

In Arnold Clark v (1) Stewart (2) Barnetts Motor Group, Barnetts sold its business to Arnold Clark who proposed to appoint a new general manager. Stewart was not consulted and so resigned. His solicitor wrote a 'without prejudice' letter to Arnold Clark detailing the allegations into the treatment of Stewart and outlining his potential heads of claim. The claims were refuted and Stewart subsequently raised a claim. The EAT confirmed the position of the Tribunal, that (i) a grievance can be set out in a letter of claim; (ii) the letter does not have to refer to a "grievance" or "grievance procedure"; (iii) a grievance can be sent by the claimant's solicitor; and (iv) marking a letter "without prejudice" will not prevent the letter forming a grievance.

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