Right to Legal Representation at Internal Disciplinary Hearings

David Reid
26th Mar 2009

Recently, the High Court has decided that in ‘certain circumstances’ an employee is entitled to be represented by a solicitor at an internal disciplinary hearing.

Employment equality act


A recent case involved a Music Assistant at a primary school who had allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a child. The school had refused the employee’s request to have legal representation at the disciplinary hearing which led to his summary dismissal. He was also told that he would be reported to the ‘appropriate agencies’ on the basis that he might be unsuitable to work with children.


The High Court accepted the employee’s argument that because of the serious nature of the allegations of misconduct and the severity of the consequences that he faced, he was entitled to an ‘enhanced measure of procedural protection’. The High Court held that the employee could not fairly be expected to represent himself, and being accompanied by a trade union official or colleague would not be sufficient. It was, however, made clear that this decision only related to the facts of this case and was not intended to have any wider implications.


You can access the full text of the Judgment by clicking here.

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