A Salutary Warning to Recruitment Agencies
17 July 2015 by Lawrence Adams
In the case of QED Legal LLP v Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP heard at the Chelmsford County Court on 16 July 2015, it was found that an enquiry as to the availability of a recruitment candidate following receipt of an unsolicited email containing select details of the candidate and the terms and conditions of a recruitment agency did not amount to an acceptance for the purpose of creating a binding contract between the parties.
QED sent unsolicited emails to a firm of solicitors containing the name and select details of a recruitment candidate together with its standard terms and conditions. Approximately a month and a half later, an enquiry was made by the firm of solicitors as to the availability of the candidate or other similar candidates. In its response, the recruitment agency confirmed that the candidate had been placed elsewhere and was therefore unavailable.
Five months after the initial details were sent through to the firm of solicitors, the candidate was employed by the firm following a direct application for an advertised position.
QED sought to persuade the Court that the solicitor’s course of conduct created a binding contract. Specifically because it had made enquiries in relation to the recruitment candidate.
Lawrence Adams representing FJG argued that no such contract could have existed as the handful of documents relied upon as constituting the contract could not, on a true construction, be said to have contained a contractual offer and an acceptance of that offer. Relying on the case of Stevenson, Jacques & Co -v- McLean (1880) 5 QBD 346, Mr Adams submitted that the documents merely went to show a request for further information.
In dismissing the claim, District Judge Shanks, sitting at Chelmsford County Court agreed and found that the firm of solicitor’s response to the email was that of a general enquiry rather than an acceptance of any alleged offer.