An industrial tribunal has brought forward the deadline for Glasgow Caledonian University to reinstate former principal, Stan Mason, because of his 65th birthday on January 30.
But the Glasgow tribunal says the university will be free to sack Dr Mason on January 31.
In a verbal judgment in November, the tribunal said Dr Mason, fired for gross misconduct in September 1997, was unfairly dismissed. By a majority of two to one, it called for his reinstatement, giving the university six weeks from the issue of the written judgment to comply.
But the judgment, issued at Christmas, has brought forward the compliance date to January 29 after finding that tribunals cannot consider unfair dismissal cases if the person is over 65 when dismissed.
Neither side made legal submissions on the impact of this on the tribunal's initial ruling.
"At this stage we feel only able to say that, if (Dr Mason) is reinstated before his 65th birthday, (the university) will be able to dismiss (him) with complete immunity from any possible proceedings for unfair dismissal on or after 31 January 1999," it said.
A spokeswoman said the university was considering whether to appeal. But Dr Mason, in a statement through solicitors Maxwell MacLaurin, wanted the court to consider costs in continuing litigation, given that most of those involved in his dismissal were no longer in post.
Dr Mason could win about Pounds 150,000 in back pay.