• Right to Legal Representation at Internal Hearings
  • July 9, 2009 | Author: Alex Denny
  • Law Firms: Faegre & Benson LLP - London Office; Faegre & Benson LLP - Minneapolis Office
  • In R (on the application of G) v The Governors of X School and another [2009] EWHC 504, the High Court held that the gravity of the allegations against him meant that the employee in question, a primary school music assistant, was entitled to legal representation during his disciplinary and appeal hearings.

    Following allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a child, the school took disciplinary action against the employee. His request to have legal representation at his disciplinary hearing ,which led to his summary dismissal, was refused by the school. 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 employee gave notice of his intention to appeal against his dismissal. His request to have legal representation at the appeal hearing was once again turned down. Subsequently, the Secretary of State was notified of the employee's dismissal for gross misconduct.

    The employee applied for judicial review, arguing that his rights under article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights had been breached by the School's decisions (i) not to allow him legal representation at the disciplinary or appeal hearings; and (ii) not to allow him to cross-examine witnesses at those hearings. As a result, the hearing of his appeal was stayed pending the outcome of the judicial review proceedings.

    The High Court held that the employee was entitled to legal representation at the disciplinary and appeal hearings as he could not fairly be expected to represent himself and being accompanied by a trade union official or colleague would not be sufficient. Although it stressed that this decision only related to the particular facts and was not intended to have wider implications, this case does highlight that legal representation during the disciplinary process may be permitted in exceptional circumstances.