Unilateral Rights and Exceptional Circumstances: Asda vs. Bateman Case Study

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1804 Words
Date:  2022-11-07


Unilateral rights refers to a contract in which the buyer essentially agrees to or promises to pay for the performance of a legal, specified act. It is worth noting most international obligations and rights stem from multilateral or bilateral treaties concluded multinational corporations, states, nongovernmental entities and other entities that have formidable positions in the international community (Paulus, 2014, 220). Unilateral right refers to the case in which the employer will receive or be issued with a relatively short statement of the terms and conditions of employment. Nevertheless, the contents of the staff handbook provided will be voluminous in comparison to the statement of the terms and conditions of employment. In the unilateral contract, one (in this case the employer) pays the other to perform a certain duty or certain specified duties (Hattab, 2018, 241). If the first party (the employee in this case) fulfills the duty duties and responsibilities, then the second party (the employer) is obligated to transfer the specified funds and any other benefits as per the terms and conditions of the contract (Cabrelli, 2016). It is imperative to note that the first party is under no legal or binding obligation, meaning that they have to fulfill the task under their own volition.

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Unilateral contracts are normally a subject or enforceable by contract law, although legal issues pertaining to such cannot arise until one party makes claim to have completed the task in question or the task assigned (Turner, 2013). Since the contract usually incurs not obligation until a specified action is taken, legal contestation normally arises when the offering party refuses to pay the offered amount or sum, citing improper or unsatisfactory completion of the task assigned. The determination of the breach of the contact would then rely on whether or not the terms and the conditions of the contract were clear enough and if it is possible to prove that the party completing the task did so adequately (Tangthong, 2014, 25). Notably, unilateral contract takes the form of a contest or a reward. For example, when a party places an advertisement offering to pay a given amount (say $200) for a safe return of a lost dog. In this particular case, anyone may enter into the unilateral contract by returning the missing dog. Such is one of the special or exceptional circumstances in which an advertisement is considered a type of contract. In this case, the advertisement is an example of an exceptional circumstance. Unilateral contract are different from bilateral contracts in that the party in the former is under no obligation to fulfill any obligation (Novitz, 2015, 245). For example, in the case of the lost dog, if the owner entered into an agreement with another party to search for the lost dog, then it means that both parties are under obligation. The second case then ceases to be a unilateral contract; it is then a bilateral contract.

Summary of the Case (Asda vs. Bateman)

Asda employed some staff on standard rate pay structure (also known as old regime) and others on top rate pay structure (also known as the new regime) (Freedland, 2016). The aim of the supermarket chain (Asda) was to amend the contracts of the employees to ensure that all the employees are on the new regime. The ordeal had attracted serious consultations since the supermarket (Asda) wanted to ensure that no employee suffered pay reduction. Close to nine thousand (9 000) employees transferred to the new regime voluntarily. The supermarket then imposed the change on more than 8 700 employee (D Ewing, 2014, 3). Close to 700 employees then forwarded claims that there were unauthorized deductions on their wages. Additional claims by the employees included unfair dismissal and breach of contract. Moreover, the case included a complainant who purported she suffered loss because of the new regime, six test claimants, and five people seeking declaration. In its defense, Asda mainly relied on a provision on the staff handbook (known as the variation clause) that posited that the company had the right to revise, review, replace, then amend the content of the handbook, and introduce new policies from time to time.

Support for Bateman and Others

The imposition of the changes certainly affected the employees in undesirable ways. The deduction of the wages of the employees (700) was unlawful since it went against the provisions of section thirteen (13) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (Fisk, and Sachs, 2014, 857). Additionally, the dismissal of the employees was in total breach of the terms and conditions of employment. As mentioned, the handbook gave the supermarket (the employer) the discretion to change the terms of employment at anytime. Despite that provision in the handbook, Asda had no right or privilege to vary the contractual policies set out in the terms and conditions. The contractual policies as set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996 include the wages and matters of dismissal (Nsubuga, 2018). Secondly, the changes in the pay structure or matter of the compensation required the input of the employees since they were much part of the contract just as the employer (Asda).

Asda did not impose the changes unilaterally, but after engaging in consultations. The consultations means that Asda also permitted the wording or the words in the handbook as insufficient or not permitting of a unilateral change since it required the employees' consent to actualize to remain binding. The introduction of the new pay structure was matter of profound importance to the employment relationship. In light of the significant changes to the contractual terms that included the payment, the employer (on ordinary principles) needed to get the consent of the employees since they formed an integral part of the contract (Reed, Cheeseman, and Schlageter, 2012). Finally, Asda failed to take into consideration the background of the affected employees. For example, most of the employees were semi-illiterate and some were illiterate, meaning that they did anticipate that their contacts allowed Asda to later the terms and conditions of the contract. Closely related to that is the fact that Asda needed explain to the employees the terms and conditions of the contract in the spirit of maintaining trust and confidence with the employees.

Support for Asda

Despite the integral part and role that the employees occupied in the functionality of the supermarket, the conditions in the staff handbook were incorporated into the employees' contractual provisions or the terms and conditions of employment (Casale and Perulli, 2014). The wording on the staff handbook was unambiguous and clear, meaning that it permitted Asda to reserve (to itself) the right and privilege to the contractual obligation or right to change the terms in the contract of the employees' contracts of employment without necessarily having to seek their consent (Duarte, 2016, 70). Secondly, Asda took the necessary steps to ensure that no employee suffered or was affected by the reduction in the wages due to the changes in the pay structure (Fidell, 2013, 2). The wording in the handbook was extensive or sufficiently wide to cover the changes that affected the new pay structure. Moreover, the provision was clear enough to make the employer make the changes without seeking the consent of the employees. Therefore, the employees' argument is not consistent with the legal contra proferentem rule (Radford, 2016, 30). Finally, the employees failed to produce a tangible argument as regards to the limitation (educational or otherwise) of the employees since such did not hinder them in discharging their duties as expected and in accordance with the terms and conditions set out initially.


It is imperative to note that the tribunal accepted and acknowledged that Asda did take the necessary steps to ensure that the employees did not suffer due to the changes in the wages structures. Essentially, the decision does not give employers the authority to change unilaterally change the terms and conditions (including reducing the pay of the employees). Towards this end, the employees should not take it that they can rely on staff handbook (as the one in the case study) to change terms of employment unilaterally without consent or consultations. According to the tribunal's verdict, Asda was not under any obligation to consult the employees on the changes. However, in practice, an employer should not make unilateral decision on weighty matter such as that of the change in pay structure (Spitko, 2016, 49). An employer should consult employees about the changes in the work practice or pay structure because in most cases such constitutes breach in the mutual terms of confidence and trust (Horton, 2009, 605). Such an action gives the employees the opportunity to resign and then seek compensation for unlawful (constructive) dismissal, breach of contract, and to make claim on unlawful deductions of wages (Gomez, 2016, 127).


Cabrelli, D., 2016. Employment Law in Context: Text and Materials. Oxford University Press.

Casale, G. and Perulli, A., 2014. Towards the single employment contract: Comparative reflections. A&C Black.

D Ewing, K., 2014. Regulating for decent work and the effectiveness of labour law. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations, 39(2), p.3.

Duarte, H. 2016. Unilateral Appointments in International Commercial Arbitration. Is it time to change the way Arbitral Tribunals are constituted? p.70.

Fidell, E.R., 2013. An American Indian Supreme Court. Am. Indian LJ, 2, pp.1-2.

Fisk, C.L. and Sachs, B.I., 2014. Restoring equity in right-to-work law. UC Irvine L. Rev., 4, p.857.

Freedland, M., Bogg, A., Cabrelli, D., Collins, H., Countouris, N., Davies, A.C.L., Deakin, S. and Prassl, J. eds., 2016. The contract of employment. Oxford University Press.

Gomez, K.F., 2019. The Duty of Personal Diligence and Integrity. In Key Duties of International Investment Arbitrators(pp. 123-159). Springer, Cham.

Hattab, M.K., 2018. The Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation & Proportionality: A Public Law Principle Adopted into the Private Law of Employment. Liverpool Law Review, 39(3), pp.239-264.

Horton, D., 2009. The Shadow Terms: Contract Procedure and Unilateral Amendments. UCLA L. Rev., 57, p.605.

Molloy, P., Chambers, R. and Cork, T., 2016. How well are national guidelines relating to the general sales of aspirin and paracetamol, adhered to by retail stores: a mystery shopper study. BMJ open, 6(1), p.e010081.

Novitz, T., 2015. The Paradigm of Sustainability in a European Social Context: Collective Participation in Protection of Future Interests?. International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, 31(3), pp.243-262.

Nsubuga, H.J., 2018. The rights of employees on corporate insolvency: a UK and US perspective (Doctoral dissertation, Nottingham Trent University).

Paulus, C.G., 2014, July. Should Politics be Replaced by a Legal Proceeding?. In A Debt Restructuring Mechanism for Sovereigns (pp. 200-221). Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG.

Radford, M.F., 2016. Response to Professor Spitko's The Will as an Implied Unilateral Arbitration Contract and an Alternative Proposal. Florida Law Review, 68, p.30.

Reed, K., Cheeseman, H.R. and Schlageter, J.J., 2012. Contract Law for Paralegals. Prentice Hall.

Spitko, E.G., 2016. The Will as an Implied Unilateral Arbitration Contract. Fla. L. Rev., 68, p.49.

Tangthong, S., 2014. The effects of human resource management practices on employee retention in Thailand's multinational corporations. International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, 2(10), pp.1-30.

The City Law School, 2016. Employment Law in Practice. Oxford University...

Cite this page

Unilateral Rights and Exceptional Circumstances: Asda vs. Bateman Case Study. (2022, Nov 07). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/unilateral-rights-and-exceptional-circumstances-asda-vs-bateman-case-study

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism