The claimant, Mr Horkulak, had been threatened and humiliated by his manager over a period of some months. Finally, he walked out of his job as a senior managing director in a major broking house in the City of London. He saw his doctor the next day, who put him on a course of tranquillisers to relieve his extreme stress and anxiety. He also saw his solicitor, who wrote to his employer, the defendant, and accepted on his behalf as a repudiatory breach of contract his manager’s treatment of him. On the day he walked out, his manager had called him a “stupid motherfucker” over the telephone during his lunch, and two months before that had called him during his daughter’s birthday party and threatened to “fucking break him in two”.

*Full case details
Steven Horkulak vs Cantor Fitzgerald International, 31 July 2003, High Court Queen’s Bench Division, Judgment of Mr Justice Newman
The claimant brought a claim for wrongful dismissal and described the defendant’s breach of contract in terms that his manager “behaved towards [him] in a manner which was calculated and/or likely to seriously damage and/or destroy the relationship of trust and confidence” between him and the defendant. The defendant argued that Mr Horkulak’s walking out of his employment itself amounted to a repudiatory breach of his contract and that, in any event, Mr Horkulak would shortly have been liable for summary dismissal because of his misconduct and shortcomings.