Finding the perfect job can be a challenge, and it can be tempting to exaggerate your qualifications or experience to make yourself a more attractive candidate. However, the recent Supreme Court case (R v Andrewes ) demonstrates the consequences of falsifying your CV.
Summary of R v Andrewes 
Mr Andrewes applied for a CEO role at a Hospice and secured the job by falsifying his CV. He claimed to be in the process of completing a PhD and to have worked in senior executive roles public sector organisations.
He held the CEO position for 11 years, receiving positive appraisals, before his employer discovered the deception and dismissed him and made a complaint to the Police. Mr Andrewes was subsequently charged with obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and two counts of fraud. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, with a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 also requiring him to repay £96,737.24 to his former employer.
What is the significance of this ruling?
The case provides a clear warning that misrepresenting qualifications and experience on a CV can result in serious criminal charges and significant financial penalties. The ruling also provides guidance on how a confiscation order should be calculated in such cases. The court calculated that Mr Andrewes had earned £643,602.91 during his 11 years of service but applied a “middle way” approach in determining the confiscation amount based on the excess earnings he had received as a result of his deception.
Mr Andrewes successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal against the imposition of the confiscation order but this was overturned in a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
Your options under Employment Law
It is essential to note that not every instance of false or misleading claims in a CV will result in criminal prosecution or such serious penalties. From an employment (as opposed to criminal) law perspective, employers may be able to summarily dismiss an employee who has lied on their CV or during the recruitment process, where it would be reasonable to do so and after a fair process.
In the case of Bouabdillah v Commerzbank AG ET/2203106/12, Ms Bouabdillah did not disclose that she had brought sex discrimination and equal pay claims against her former employer when applying for a job with Commerzbank. One of the questions in a pre-employment application form was whether she had ever been the subject of civil proceedings in the UK, to which she replied “no”.
After the litigation was revealed in the press, Commerzbank dismissed her, claiming a breakdown of trust. However, the employment tribunal held that it was the fact that she had brought discrimination proceedings, rather than the fact that she had failed to disclose them during the recruitment process, which had led to the decision to dismiss. The tribunal found that the employee had not misled Commerzbank or caused a breakdown in trust by failing to disclose the proceedings, and the litigation was a private matter that did not affect her suitability for the job or the employer’s reputation.
It is crucial to be honest and transparent throughout the recruitment process, and any inaccurate or misleading information on your CV or in interviews could lead to dismissal or other consequences. Employers also have a duty to verify the information provided by candidates, not least as any falsehoods or exaggerations could also severely damage its professional reputation and potentially result in legal action too.
These cases serve as a reminder of the importance of being honest when applying for jobs and the severe consequences of falsifying your CV. Job seekers should take the time to ensure that their CV accurately reflects their qualifications and experience, and any uncertainties or gaps should be addressed truthfully. By being transparent and honest throughout the recruitment process, candidates can avoid potential legal consequences and build a positive professional reputation.
If you have any questions or would like any further information on the content of this article, please do not hesitate to contact our Employment Law team, who will be happy to help.