Mr Barker was a long term employee of Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), having worked at the bank from 1981 to 2009. Throughout his time at CBA, Mr Barker rose through the ranks, becoming an Executive Manager. In 2009, CBA advised Mr Barker that his position had been made redundant. Mr Barker was placed on paid leave and later advised that his employment was to be terminated. CBA had a redeployment policy that provided that certain steps should be taken by CBA to ensure that employees affected by redundancy were redeployed. Mr Barker’s employment contract expressly excluded this policy.
Mr Barker claimed that CBA had breached an implied term of mutual trust and confidence through its alleged failure to make proper efforts of redeployment. At first instance, the Federal Court found in favour of Mr Barker, deciding that an implied term of mutual trust and confidence did exist in his employment contract.
The Federal Court decision was subsequently upheld on appeal by the Full Federal Court. Special leave to appeal to the High Court was granted. The High Court, for the reasons articulated in further detail below, has held, that no implied term of mutual trust and confidence exists.
The Full Federal Court drew on United Kingdom legal developments in reaching its decision.