Wins landmark case for soccer coach in Superligaen

Søren Hammer Westmark

Attorney (Supreme Court), Partner, Honorary Consul for Sweden

+ 45 24251353
Caroline Sylvester

Senior Attorney

+45 21191250

The case concerned the employment relationship between Esbjerg fB and former coach Jonas Dal.

Jonas Dal started as coach at EfB in the fall of 2015 and worked as such until the summer of 2016, when the parties began negotiations to terminate the cooperation. Jonas Dal was suspended and later terminated by the club and then contacted CLEMENS Law Firm, as he believed that his contract was irrevocable for a longer period of time.

The coaching contract contained a provision that the contract was non-terminable until December 31, 2017. The contract could be terminated by Jonas Dal with 6 months' notice and by the club with 12 months' notice.

The dispute in its core was about whether EfB could terminate coach Jonas Dal's employment as a coach to resign at the end of the non-terminability period on December 31, 2017, or whether EfB could only terminate the employment after the end of the non-terminability period with the consequence that a notice period could only run thereafter.

CLEMENS Law Firm was of the opinion that EfB's notice period could only run after the end of the period of non-terminability, and that Jonas Dal could thus have been terminated in January 2018 at the earliest for resignation at the end of January 2019.

Coach Jonas Dal therefore raised a claim for damages against EfB as a result of missing salary, pension and holiday pay in the period until the end of January 2019, less the salary income that Jonas Dal had received as a result of other salary income in the period.

Furthermore, Jonas Dal raised a claim for defects under the Employment Certificates Act.

During the case, EfB maintained that coach Jonas Dal could be terminated for resignation already at the end of the notice period. EfB argued, among other things, that there are limits to the length of an agreed period of notice and that an employer must be able to terminate with reasonable notice regardless of the agreed contractual basis.

District court verdict

The District Court found that, based on the wording of the contract and the circumstances in general, the provision on irrevocability was most likely to be understood as meaning that the notice period could run from the end of the irrevocability period at the earliest.

The court found that there was no basis for a view that EfB could terminate the employment relationship with a shorter reasonable notice period or that it would not be possible to validly agree on non-terminability for a longer period.

The provision on non-terminability meant that EfB's 12 months' notice period could only run from 2018, which is why Jonas Dal could only resign at the end of January 2019.

EfB was ordered by the court in Esbjerg to pay coach Jonas Dal for lack of salary, pension and holiday pay during the notice period less other salary income during the period as well as compensation for inadequate proof of employment.


Termination provisions in employment contracts are often the subject of dispute. Among other things, disputes may arise about periods of non-terminability, seniority and questions about the mandatory notice periods in the Danish Salaried Employees Act.

It is therefore extremely important to be in control of the contractual basis with your employees. If you have questions about employment contracts or need advice on employment law in general, you are welcome to contact us for a non-binding consultation.

Attorney and partner Søren Hammer Westmark and Attorney Caroline Sylvester have advised Jonas Dal in the dispute since 2016. Søren Hammer Westmark brought the case before the Court of Esbjerg, which on July 30, 2020, ruled in favor of Jonas Dal.

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