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My questions is tangentially related to this one (but slightly different): I've been offered a job, but my new employer won't give me a contract until after I give my notice

I have been given an offer letter (email in this case) via a recruiter for a role at a UK government agency as a developer.

The offer letter states that "Their HR department will generate official offer paperwork" following my acceptance of the offer. I have replied to this email stating that I accept the offer. They also asked that I withdraw from any other processes because they (the employer) wants to close the position.

I was also expected to provide a start date which I did, saying that the earliest I believe I could start is one month from the offer email.

There's been some delay as I've recently moved so I wasn't able to provide proof of address in a very timely manner.

I have not as of yet received any "official offer paperwork", I understand that under UK law accepting an offer constitutes a contract of employment. But I'm not sure this is what has occurred in my case since I have seen no "official offer paperwork".

I have spoken to the recruiter a few times whilst the above was ongoing and have said that I won't hand in my notice for my current employer until I see the contract.

So my question is, if I wished to withdraw my acceptance of this offer would I be able to do so without legal consequences? (I know I should talk to a solicitor but that's easier said than done)

Considering that I haven't received an "official" offer as they put it I don't consider it binding and I have not handed in my notice.

My worry now is that I may be liable if I withdraw from the offer or if I do have to start that I'll be breaching my current contract which has a one month notice period.

Apologies if anything is unclear or this does turn out to be a repeat (I did try to find something similar), but I'm rather anxious about all this.

Any advice is welcome.

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    If you need specific legal advice, you need to talk to a solicitor, which isn't hard. Phone one up. May 20 '21 at 12:27
  • I did but I'm still waiting to hear back.
    – Charles
    May 20 '21 at 17:56
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    Phone up another solicitor. The first one has just lost your business by being too slow... May 20 '21 at 19:45
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You typically don't need to give notice in the UK if you've worked somewhere for less than one month. It would be a logical extension that withdrawing your acceptance, or resigning without working a day would be allowed. The exception is if you've agreed to a contract to give a longer notice period.

At the end of the day, if they somehow wanted to sue you for damages, they could, but it would be incredibly difficult for them to sue for punitive damages. This means, if they sue you, the can only sue your for direct damages due to your actions. Which is likely to be minimal.

In addition, it's reasonably unlikely a judge is likely to view your conduct as improper.

If you wanted to protect yourself, you should state that you agree in principal to the terms on the contract. This is legal jargon meaning that it is your intention to sign the contract assuming you agree with the contract once you have read it.

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  • I really apprechiate the advice. I'm a bit naive when it comes to these things, I don't really have much experiance. I did let the recruiter know that my agreement was in principle but not in writing and in retrospect this was an error on my part.
    – Charles
    May 20 '21 at 17:58

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