How should an employer approach providing a reference where the employment ended during unresolved disciplinary proceedings?

The Court of Appeal has said, in Cox v Sun Alliance Life Ltd [2001] IRLR 448 CA, that before divulging any unfavourable information in a reference, the employer must make sure that it genuinely believes the information to be true, has reasonable grounds for that belief and has investigated the matter.

In Jackson v Liverpool City Council [2011] IRLR 1009 CA, the Court of Appeal held that an employer can refer to allegations made against the subject of the reference provided that it is made clear if the allegations have not been investigated.

Employers giving a reference must balance the duty they owe to the former employee with that owed to the prospective employer and must not provide a reference that is unfair or misleading.