Scrase Law Employment Solicitors

High Court considers the right to be accompanied

The High Court has held that a university breached the implied term of trust and confidence when they refused to allow an employee to be accompanied by his chosen companion at a disciplinary meeting. The employee, a clinical professor, was employed under two contracts of employment, one with the university and the other with an NHS trust. He faced serious misconduct charges in relation to clinical trials which were undertaken jointly between both employers.

The university took the lead in the disciplinary action. The professor was not a member of a trade union and gave evidence that he did not have many friends at the university who could have accompanied him. His request to be accompanied by a representative of a professional defence organisation was denied on the basis that the representative was neither a trade union official nor an employee of the university.

The High Court found that while there was no statutory or contractual right allowing the professor to be accompanied by the professional representative, failure to do so breached the implied term of trust and confidence.

This is a complex case and the High Court’s findings are fact specific. The Court placed particular emphasis on the fact that if the professor had been disciplined by the NHS trust then he would have been allowed to have been accompanied by the professional representative.

Stevens v University of Birmingham [2015] EWHC 2300 (QB)

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